Elevated large artery stiffness and pulse pressure have emerged as important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The genders differ in large artery biomechanical properties throughout the lifespan with females displaying higher stiffness than males during the prepubertal years and a dramatic increase after menopause. Males on the other hand experience an increase in arterial stiffness postpuberty and a linear increase thereafter, suggesting that females have intrinsically stiffer large arteries than males, but that such effects are mitigated by sex steroids during the reproductive years. This review discusses anthropometric and sex steroid influences on gender differences in large artery stiffness and pressure dynamics from childhood to senescence. In particular, the sex-specific effects of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone on vascular structure and function and how these influence arterial stiffness are explored. These factors may contribute in part to the observed gender differences in the pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of cardiovascular disease.
- arterial stiffness
- sex steroids