By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

When blood pressure rises, three possibilities are to blame. Either your heart rate went up, the volume of blood pumped by the heart rose, or there was increased resistance to blood flow through the vessels. A new study suggests gender may influence which is to blame in younger people.

Treatment recommendations for men and women with high blood pressure are the same, but the new findings indicate gender-specific treatment strategies may be needed.

The study, presented Friday at the American Heart Association and American Society of Hypertension Joint Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, included 1,347 Canadian teens plus adults ranging in age from 36 to 65. In women, researchers found the volume of blood pumped by the heart most often explained a rise in blood pressure, while in men, blood flow resistance was most often to blame.

“There have been many studies looking at sex differences in the usefulness of blood pressure medications,” said study author Catriona Syme, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. “But most of those studies have been done in people whose average age was 60-70 years—many of the women being postmenopausal.”

Syme said, “We think premenopausal women and men of a similar age may have elevated blood pressure for different reasons, and thus may need to be treated for hypertension differently. After menopause, when the production of female sex hormones decreases, reasons for hypertension may be more similar in men and women.”

Because the study included only whites, researchers said future studies should investigate differences by race.