Why high blood pressure can be different in men and women

Credit: CDC / Unsplash

In the United States, a lot of adults, actually about half, are dealing with high blood pressure. This is a big problem because it can lead to serious heart issues.

We’ve known for a while that men and women experience high blood pressure differently, but figuring out why has been tough.

Thanks to a study by researchers at Michigan Medicine, we’re getting a clearer picture. They discovered that the way blood pressure is controlled in the body through genes can be quite different between men and women.

This discovery is important because it could lead to better ways to treat heart disease, especially for women.

Dr. Santhi K. Ganesh, a big name in heart medicine at the University of Michigan, played a leading role in this study. She and her team looked at the genetic blueprints of a large group of people from the UK Biobank to find clues about blood pressure.

They found over 1,300 genetic markers linked to blood pressure, and many of these markers were unique to either men or women. For women, the genes related to estrogen, a female hormone, were particularly important.

The study, published in a major medical journal, Nature Medicine, showed that the genes affecting women were not only different but also had a stronger link to high blood pressure and heart disease.

This is a big deal because it helps doctors understand why women might be more at risk for certain types of heart disease.

One interesting find was that four areas of the genome (the complete set of genes) were linked to a condition where the arteries get stiff or scarred, making it hard for blood to flow. This condition, called fibromuscular dysplasia, is more common in women and can lead to high blood pressure.

Dr. Ganesh believes this research fills a big gap in our knowledge about heart disease, especially how it affects women differently from men.

She points out that when doctors treat high blood pressure, they don’t always consider whether a man or woman might need different care. This study suggests that they should.

Looking ahead, this research paves the way for new treatments that are tailored to each person’s genetic makeup, taking into account whether they are male or female.

This approach, known as precision medicine, could make treatments more effective and improve health outcomes for people with high blood pressure and heart disease.

In simple terms, this study is a big step towards understanding and treating heart disease better. By knowing more about how our genes affect blood pressure differently in men and women, doctors can develop better, more personalized treatment plans to keep our hearts healthy.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that may increase high blood pressure risk, and drinking green tea could help lower blood pressure.

For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about what to eat or to avoid for high blood pressure,  and 12 foods that lower blood pressure.

The research findings can be found in Nature Medicine.

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