Jiaying (Jayne) Zhang, MD 

Peters SAE, Huxley RR, and Woodward M. Comparison of the Sex-Specific Associations Between Systolic BloodPressure and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Reviewand Meta-Analysis of 124 Cohort Studies, Including 1.2 Million Individuals. Stroke. 2013

Hypertension is the leading risk factor for both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease worldwide. Previous studies comparing gender differences in the association of systolic blood pressure (SBP) and cardiovascular disease were inconsistent. Since hypertension is such a major risk factor, it is important to find out the potential sex differences of SBP elevation and cardiovascular outcomes from both clinical and public health perspective.

In this meta-analysis, Peters and colleagues systematically reviewed data from 124 prospective cohort studies with nearly 1.2 million individuals and more than 50,000 stroke and ischemic heart disease events. The authors found systolic blood pressure increments had similar impact on cardiovascular outcomes in both sexes. Accounting for other major cardiovascular risk factors, there was a 15% increased risk of ischemic heart disease and 25% increase risk of stroke for every 10mmHg increment in SBP both genders.
While the results of this study is not a shocking surprise, the authors do raise another salient point in the discussion that SBP levels are on average higher and rising in low- and middle- income countries compared to high-income countries. This means primary preventive actions to curb hypertension is therefore, of utmost importance in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in the future.