Women experience steeper increases in blood pressure (BP) than men as they age, according to a JAMA Cardiology study.
Researchers examined data from four community-based cohorts, comprising nearly 33,000 participants in whom longitudinal BP measurements were taken over 40 years. They found that age-associated BP increases occurred at a faster rate in women than men, sometimes beginning when participants were still in their third decade of life. After adjustment for confounders like diabetes and smoking, BP increases were steeper in women than men throughout adulthood.
The researchers write, "In contrast with the notion that important vascular diseases in women lag behind men by 10 to 20 years, our findings indicate that certain vascular changes not only develop earlier but also progress faster in women than in men. ... Sex differences in physiology, starting in early life, may well set the stage for later-life cardiac as well as vascular diseases that often present differently in women compared with men."