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Blood pressure drugs work equally well in women

There is no difference in the effects of blood-pressure lowering drugs between men and women, a large review of 31 trials has shown.

The results counter the theory that poorer outcomes in some groups of women are due to lack of response to treatment, the Australian researchers said.

Many trials have been criticised for including few women and to overcome this problem the new study, published online by the European Heart Journal, looked at data on 103,268 men and 87,349 women.

For every comparison, blood pressure reductions were comparable between the sexes, the researchers found.

There was no evidence men and women obtained different levels of protection from major cardiovascular events through blood pressure lowering or that regimens based on ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, ARBs or diuretics/beta-blockers were more effective in one sex than the other.

Study leader Dr Fiona Turnbull said until now the picture had been unclear with some studies reporting different effects of antihypertensives in men and women.

‘While the patient's sex should contribute to their risk assessment, it need not otherwise influence decisions about need for blood pressure-lowering therapy, the intensity of blood pressure reduction achieved or choice of drug class,' she added.

Dr Kathryn Griffiths, a GP in York and chair elect of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said a lot of trials tended to exclude women because they are harder to recruit and because of concerns over potential pregnancy which made translating research into practise difficult, such as was the case with statins.

‘It is reassuring to know men and women behave in a similar way and it's evidence to say that of course women should be treated as aggressively as men.'

Blood pressure monitoring

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