Systematic review on sex differences for drug use after stroke

Therapie. 2023 Mar-Apr;78(2):213-224. doi: 10.1016/j.therap.2022.11.007. Epub 2022 Nov 30.


Introduction: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have synthetized the existing knowledge on sex-differences for the risk of stroke, the most recent ones highlighting an increased risk of stroke for women. However, whether there are sex differences in post stroke treatment in real world setting is not known. We therefore conducted a systematic review on this subject.

Material and methods: All observational studies on sex-differences in poststroke drug use published until 20/04/2021 were identified from PubMed and Scopus. Articles were selected and assessed by two independent readers; a third resolved disagreements. Data extraction was performed using a standardized form; articles quality was assessed using the STROBE guidelines. The study is registered on PROSPERO: CRD42021250256.

Results: Of the 604 identified articles, 33 were included. Most were published before 2015 and presented methodological limitations. These limitations differentially affected studies with statistically significant and non-significant results, questioning the reliability of conflicting results. The exploration of sex-differences in drug use varied between therapeutic classes (articles focusing on thrombolytics: 25; antithrombotics: 23; on antihypertensive: 13; lipid-lowering drugs: 9). After stroke, women were found less likely to be prescribed antithrombotics in 48% of the articles investigating this class, and lipid-lowering drugs in 56%. Thirty-one percent of the studies concerning antihypertensive drugs reported the opposite.

Discussion/conclusion: In women, a lack of use of antithrombotics and lipid-lowering drugs after stroke seem to emerge from this review. Conflicting results regarding sex-differences might relate to methodological limitations in studies with no statistical differences, and advocate for the conduct of newer and more comprehensive research.

Keywords: Cerebrovascular; Drugs; Management; Secondary prevention; Sex difference.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Stroke* / epidemiology


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Lipids