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Does Sex Matter in Healthy Aging?

Research has shown that sex matters not only in the pathophysiology of aging and the presentation of many chronic diseases, but also in the metabolism of medications. This presentation will describe the current research into the differences in aging and presentation of chronic diseases between men and women including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolism of statins.

NPs need to be aware of these differences when assessing, diagnosing, and treating their male and female patients.

NPs need to be aware of, and advocate for the inclusion of women in research and clinical trials when chronic diseases and metabolism of medications are being studied.

After attending this presentation, NPs will be able to:
• Summarize the differences in the presentation of common chronic diseases between men and women.
• Describe the differences in adverse effects of statins between men and women.
• Critically appraise the role of nurse practitioners in evaluation and treatment of male and female patients in regard to differences in drug metabolism.
• Describe needed changes in practice, teaching, and research that will include the differences between men and women in clinical trials for medications and the study of diseases based on sex differences.

This presentation will discuss current research on the following topics:
• Twice as many women have Alzheimer’s disease as men.
• The effects of cardiovascular disease are different for men vs. women: sex differences in the vasculature show that microvascular disease is a greater contributor to cardiovascular disease in women than in men, whereas obstructive coronary artery disease is a greater contributor in men than in women.
• Women experience adverse drug reactions (ADRs) twice as often as men, yet the role of sex as a biological factor is poorly understood. Most drugs were based on clinical trials with men, highlighting that the practice of prescribing equal doses to both men and women neglects sex differences in pharmacokinetics and dimorphisms in body weight, risking overmedication of women, and contributes to female-biased adverse drug reactions. Therefore, NPs need to be aware of the differences in pathophysiology of chronic diseases and drug metabolism between their male and female patients in order to treat appropriately.


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