Blood pressure drugs work well in both sexes

Do men and women respond differently to blood pressure-lowering treatment? A report from Australia suggests that a broad range of treatments for high blood pressure or “hypertension” have similar protective effects in both sexes.

Dr. Fiona Turnbull and colleagues at the University of Sydney studied data from 31 trials involving 103,268 men and 87,349 women who participated in blood pressure-lowering treatment trials.

Reductions in blood pressure were comparable between the sexes for each of the treatment comparisons, the team reports.

They also note that a total of 6,586 strokes, 9,400 heart disease-related “events” and 3,522 cases of heart failure were recorded in the treatment trials.

Overall, 41 percent of heart disease and heart failure events and 32 percent of stroke events were observed in women. Cardiovascular-related death rates for men and women were 4.4 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Approximately 40 percent of all deaths occurred in women.

As mentioned, both men and women responded well to blood pressure-lowering therapy. “Achieved blood pressure reductions were comparable for men and women in every comparison made,” the investigators wrote in a report in the European Heart Journal.

For the primary outcome of total major cardiovascular events there was no evidence that men and women obtained different levels of protection, or that drug regimens based on different classes of blood pressure drugs like ACE inhibitors, calcium antagonists, diuretics or beta blockers were more effective in one sex than the other.

SOURCE: European Heart Journal, November 2008.

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