Cardiovascular alteration and treatment of hypertension: do men and women differ?

Endocrine. 2005 Nov;28(2):199-207. doi: 10.1385/ENDO:28:2:199.


Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of mortality affecting both men and women in industrialized nations. Sex-related differences have been well established with regard to heart and vascular function as well as cardiovascular disease processes. Nevertheless, the precise mechanisms of action behind these gender-related differences are poorly understood. Premenopausal women have a relatively lower arterial blood pressure compared to age-matched men and post-menopausal women, suggesting a role of ovarian hormones in blood pressure regulation. Sex-related differences in vasculature and neuroendocrine systems are also present that can affect hemostasis, vascular reactivity, and vascular tone. Treatment for cardiovascular disease and hypertension has been challenging and unsatisfactory. Men and women may require different antihypertensive regimens due to differences in the progression and presentation of hypertension. Additionally, hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women has been controversial, producing both beneficial and detrimental effects. Therefore, this review will focus on sex-related differences in the heart and vasculature, and treatments for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Vessels / physiology
  • Blood Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Chest Pain / psychology
  • Female
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Nitric Oxide