Researchers call for specific guidelines to treat female patients

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In a recent paper, researchers from the University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz Medical Campus expressed a need for new, sex-specific healthcare guidelines for treating women with obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

The paper, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was co-authored by Judy Regensteiner, PhD, and Jane Reusch, MD, both faculty at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Until the 1990s, the vast majority of research studies on chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease as well as the risk factors that contribute to them, excluded women from clinical trials, according to the authors. In addition, they said research on women’s health focused primarily on diseases that impacted fertility and reproduction.  

In the paper, Reusch and Regensteiner explained that cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity present differently in females. They argued that more research is needed to understand how these risk factors affect the female body in order to optimize methods of prevention and treatment.

“We need to understand how clinical care guidelines can be appropriately targeted to women as well as men in order to accurately prevent, assess, and treat cardiovascular disease in both sexes,” said Regensteiner in a statement. “We are currently using the same guidelines for both men and women. However, we do not have the evidence we need to know if this is justified in all disease states.”

Because therapy goals for women with hypertension and diabetes are often not met, the authors explained that practitioners must begin to cater their treatment plans according to the gender of their patient. They said guidelines for treating women with chronic conditions will require more studies on how clinical interventions could be improved for women, and that sex and gender should be incorporated into clinical trials to ensure the results apply to a broad range of patients.