Doctors give men and women different advice to head off heart disease, even though guidelines for both are the same.
Men were 20% more likely to be prescribed statins to lower blood levels of bad cholesterol compared with women, a new study found.
Women, meanwhile, were 27% more likely to be advised to lose weight or reduce their salt intake, and 38% more likely to receive recommendations to exercise.
Women were also 11% more likely to be advised to cut fat and calories.
The study findings were presented Saturday at a meeting in Singapore organized by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology and the Asean Federation of Cardiology.
"Following our analysis, we conducted a review of the literature to find possible explanations for the results. This demonstrated that a potential root of the discrepancy in advice is the misconception that women have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than men," said study author Dr. Prima Wulandari of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
"Our findings highlight the need for greater awareness among health professionals to ensure that both women and men receive the most up-to-date information on how to maintain heart health," Wulandari said in an ESC news release.
Previous research had shown that women with heart disease received less aggressive treatment compared with men.
For this study, researchers used data from a U.S. federal health and nutrition survey conducted from 2017 to 2020.
It included more than 8,500 men and women between 40 and 79 years of age with no history of heart disease. More than 2,900 were eligible to receive statin drugs because they had an increased risk for heart disease.
ESC guidelines recommend adults of all ages do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity, aerobic physical activity each week.
Diet recommendations emphasize plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, and limiting salt intake to less than 5 grams per day.
People who are overweight or obese should lose weight to lower blood pressure, lipids and the risk of diabetes, reducing their risk of heart disease, the guidelines say.
Statins are recommended based on individual characteristics, including age and heart disease risk, according to the ESC.
Findings presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on heart disease.
SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, Dec. 2, 2022