Study Finds Aortic Stenosis Develops Differently in Men and Women

April 27, 2020
Gretchen Cuda Kroen

An anaylsis of damaged heart valves from patients who had undergone transplants revealed a surprising finding: the process that causes aortic stenosis is different in women and men.

An anaylsis of damaged heart valves from patients who had undergone transplants revealed a surprising finding: the process that causes aortic stenosis is different in women and men.

The study which was published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, analyzed surgically exised heart valves using the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan.  The research, led by Marta Cerruti, found considerable differences in the mineral deposits found in aortic valves across the two sexes. 

"What we showed, which was a surprise to us, is that the type of minerals in the heart valves is different between the sexes," said Cerruti. "We unexpectedly found that the minerals are different in composition and shape, and that they grow slower in women."

The researchers also determined that a certain type of mineral deposit was found almost exclusively in samples from female patients.

Cerruti says that her findings demonstrate the importance of thinking about diversity of subjects in the context of experimental research, a concept that has historically been ignored.

"Our study is the perfect illustration that by only looking at a specific population, you will skew your data," she says. "Having a more diverse data set improves your science."

Heart disease remains the global leading cause of death in both men and women.  Cerruti says her work demonstrates the need to develop different diagnostic and therapeutic approaches when treating aortic stenosis in men or women.

Future research will continue to investigate this cardiovascular phenomenon and understand the precise composition of the mineral deposits they found in women.

"Understanding what the minerals are could definitely help to develop a cure," she says. "It's possible that there could be easier ways to target these minerals and dissolve them for women."

"Differences in mineral composition and morphology between men and women in aortic valve calcification" by Marta Cerruti and al. was published in Acta Biomaterialia.

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