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Sex And The Heart: It's Not What You Think

Date:
September 8, 2006
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
A new study finds that when it comes to heart health, men are getting better while women are getting worse. "Women are no longer protected from heart disease risk relative to men," said Eileen Crimmins of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. "Reports indicating that men are more likely to have more high-risk levels of blood pressure and cholesterol are no longer true in the U.S. population over 60 years of age."
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A surprising new study finds that women in their 60s have as many risk factors for heart disease as men, and by their 70s have more, according to research led by demographers at the University of Southern California.

The findings, published in the current issue of the Journal of Women's Health, reflect a change from previous decades when older men were at greater risk for heart disease. Instead this research shows over the last 10 years, older women are doing worse, while men are doing better.

Women's risk for heart disease is still lower than men's through middle age. But the break-even point at which women catch up to men is now at age 60, 10 years earlier than before.

"Women are no longer protected from heart disease risk relative to men," said Eileen Crimmins, corresponding author and professor in USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. "Reports indicating that men are more likely to have more high-risk levels of blood pressure and cholesterol are no longer true in the U.S. population over 60 years of age."

Crimmins and her colleagues examined changes between 1988 and 2002 in indicators related to cardiovascular disease. The research team used data on men and women 40 and older from two broadly representative samples of the US population, approximately 10 years apart.

Among the findings:

* High risk blood pressure - both diastolic and systolic - increased in women but decreased in men. Medication against hypertension appeared to be more effective in men than women.

* Both men and women saw a decrease in high-risk HDL cholesterol, but men showed greater improvement. The use of cholesterol-lowering medication increased somewhat more for men.

* More women than men had high C-Reactive Protein (a marker of infection that in elevated levels has been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease). This appears to be associated with increased use of hormone-replacement therapy, Crimmins said.

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the U.S. Funding for the group's research came from the National Institute on Aging.


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The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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University of Southern California. "Sex And The Heart: It's Not What You Think." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060908145730.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2006, September 8). Sex And The Heart: It's Not What You Think. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060908145730.htm
University of Southern California. "Sex And The Heart: It's Not What You Think." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060908145730.htm (accessed May 26, 2015).

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