Sex differences in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular physiology, disease, and signaling mechanisms: New insights into arterial stiffening: Does sex matter?

Benard O. Ogola, Margaret A. Zimmerman, Gabrielle L. Clark, Caleb M. Abshire, Kaylee M. Gentry, Kristin S. Miller, Sarah H. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

This review discusses sexual dimorphism in arterial stiffening, disease pathology interactions, and the influence of sex on mechanisms and pathways. Arterial stiffness predicts cardiovascular mortality independent of blood pressure. Patients with increased arterial stiffness have a 48% higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Like other cardiovascular pathologies, arterial stiffness is sexually dimorphic. Young women have lower stiffness than aged-matched men, but this sex difference reverses during normal aging. Estrogen therapy does not attenuate progressive stiffening in postmenopausal women, indicating that currently prescribed drugs do not confer protection. Although remodeling of large arteries is a protective adaptation to higher wall stress, arterial stiffening increases afterload to the left ventricle and transmits higher pulsatile pressure to smaller arteries and target organs. Moreover, an increase in aortic stiffness may precede or exacerbate hypertension, particularly during aging. Additional studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms by which females are protected from arterial stiffness to provide insight into its mechanisms and, ultimately, therapeutic targets for treating this pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1073-H1087
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Volume315
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Arterial stiffness
  • Estrogen
  • Hypertension
  • Pulse wave velocity
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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