The potential risks to women of taking heart medication is little known, primarily because they are under-represented in clinical trials, according to a research paper in the European Heart Journal.
Men and women frequently respond differently to drugs. For example, during the menstrual cycle, menopause or pregnancy, the hormonal influence results in gender differences in the level of heart drugs in the plasma. Say the authors: “On the whole, the study situation for women is appreciably less favourable than for men: owing to the fact that women are under-represented in most studies, and that few gender-specific analyses have been conducted.”
In fact, they note that females have a 50%–70% greater risk of suffering adverse drug reactions than men. For example, aspirin is not as effective in women as it is in men in preventing cardiovascular disease, and digitalis was found to be linked to greater female mortality than amongst men.