Sex-related differences in the pharmacological treatment of heart failure

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Tamargo Menéndez, Juán
Delpon Mosquera, María Eva
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Heart failure (HF) represents a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. However, HF trials highlighted many differences between men and women with HF. Thus, women represent approximately a quarter of people with HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), while they account for over half of those with HF with preserved EF (HFpEF). There are also sex-related differences (SRDs) in the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and safety profile of some guideline-recommended drugs for the treatment of HF. As compared with men, women with HFrEF are less often treated with guideline-recommended HF drugs, experience more frequent and severe adverse reactions when these drugs are prescribed at the same doses in both sexes, and recent evidence suggests that women might need lower doses than men, bringing into question which are the optimal doses of HF drugs in women and men separately. However, information on SRDs in drug efficacy and safety in patients with HFrEF is very limited due to the underrepresentation of women and the lack of sex-specific evaluations of drug efficacy and safety in HF clinical trials. As a consequence, current clinical guidelines do not provide sex-specific recommendations, even when significant differences exist, at least, in drug safety. The aim of this article is to review the SRDs in the pharmacokinetics, efficacy and safety of guideline-recommended HF drugs and to identify emerging areas of research to improve our understanding of the SRDs, because a better understanding of these differences is the first step to achieve a personalized treatment of HF in women and men.
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