Sex differences in age-related cardiovascular mortality

PLoS One. 2013 May 20;8(5):e63347. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063347. Print 2013.


Introduction: Sex-related physiological differences result in different expressions of diseases for men and women. Data are contradicting regarding the increase in the female risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) at mid-life. Thus, we studied possible sex differences in age-adjusted mortality for CVD and non-vascular diseases stratifying our findings by specific age groups.

Methods: Over one million deaths (1 080 910) reported to the Finnish nationwide Causes of Death Register in 1986-2009 were analyzed. A total of 247 942 male deaths and 278 752 female deaths were of CVD origin, the remaining deaths were non-vascular. The annual mortality rates were calculated per 100 000 mid-year population, separately for men and women in 5-year age categories.

Results: The age-standardized risk of death from CVD was 80% higher for men (442/100 000) than for women (246/100 000). After age 45-54 the male CVD mortality rate elevated parallel to the non-vascular mortality, whereas in women the CVD mortality elevated considerably more rapidly than the non-vascular mortality from age 60 years onwards.

Conclusions: Heart disease mortality in men accelerates at a relatively young age, but in women the risk shows a steep increase at approximately 60 years of age. These data emphasize the need to identify and prevent risk factors for CVD, especially in women in their mid-life years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult