The latest research of this kind was published this week
and is about blood pressure. It turns out that the healthy blood pressure threshold we have been using forever is in fact the healthy blood pressure threshold for men and the female threshold may be lower. And this matters, because as the lead author of the paper, Dr. Susan Cheng, put it
, blood pressure is “the single most major modifiable risk factor for all different types of cardiovascular disease.” Women who were over the newly identified female level, but under the unisex “normal” level, were “associated with risk for developing any type of cardiovascular disease — including heart attack, heart failure and stroke.”
As readers of Invisible Women will remember, this is far from the first time scientists have discovered that using thresholds based on research on men may miss disease in women, for example, in 2016 we discovered that “the ‘normal’ diagnostic threshold for troponin (a protein released into the blood during heart damage) may be too high for women.” (IW, p.220 in the new US paperback edition 😎)
And as readers of Invisible Women will also remember, heart disease is the biggest killer of women in the US and Europe, so this study is good news; women’s lives could be saved as a result of it. It would be nice if researchers who insist on continuing with their easy default male research would remember the potential stakes involved here.