News Release

Sex-specific guidelines needed to accurately treat women

Current recommendations are based on studies in men

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Academic researchers are calling for new healthcare guidelines for treating obesity, hypertension and diabetes in women. Currently, there are no sex-specific guidelines for treating or preventing these health conditions, potentially limiting the medical care available to women. 

Today, in a new paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus faculty Judy Regensteiner, PhD, and Jane Reusch, MD, discuss the need for sex-specific health information for obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

The authors mention researchers have long understood that the health differences between men and women go well beyond only reproductive health. However, until the early 1990s, the limited research conducted on women’s health focused primarily on diseases affecting fertility and reproduction and women were excluded from most clinical trials.

“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. 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,” said Regensteiner.

The prevalence of hypertension is higher in men than in women prior to age 60 but following menopause, hypertension increases in women — and cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. In addition, non-Hispanic Black men and women experience higher rates of hypertension than non-Hispanic White and Hispanic populations.

Also, Regensteiner and Reusch noted that for the first time, obesity rates in men were at the same level as women. However, the adipose distribution in men and women is often different and has physiological implications — in postmenopausal women this can cause an increased cardiometabolic risk.

With regards to diabetes, any exposure to diabetes no matter how short — including gestational diabetes — increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in women. This increased risk of cardiovascular disease in women with diabetes is found even before menopause.

“Women develop diabetes with a different constellation of risk factors than men and it is crucial to understand these differences when making treatment decisions,” said Reusch.

For these reasons, it is important for researchers to develop new sex-specific guidelines for obesity, hypertension and diabetes where appropriate. The risk factors, manifestations and time of onset are different for men and women, potentially requiring guidelines that differ by sex.


About the University of Colorado Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research

Established in 2004, the Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research is part of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The Ludeman Center aims to improve the health of our communities by researching women’s health and sex differences, providing women, their families and healthcare providers with information to make informed health decisions and developing the next generation of researchers in the field of women’s health and sex differences.


About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is a world-class medical destination at the forefront of transformative science, medicine, education and patient care. The campus encompasses the University of Colorado health professional schools, more than 60 centers and institutes, and two nationally ranked independent hospitals - UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and Children's Hospital Colorado - that treat more than two million adult and pediatric patients each year. Innovative, interconnected and highly collaborative, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus delivers life-changing treatments, patient care and professional training and conducts world-renowned research fueled by over $650 million in research grants. For more information, visit

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