Women are under represented in most clinical studies, so the data and the results are less well documented for them, according to Dr Verena Stangl, senior author of the paper, who is from the Charit Hospital, Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany.
Dr Stangl, who is Professor of Cardiology (Molecular Atherosclerosis) at the hospital's Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pneumology, said that although the percentage of women in studies of coronary heart disease had risen since the mid 1980s to reflect the prevalence of CHD in women, they were still under represented in trials involving coronary artery disease, arterial hypertension and heart failure.
She said: "It is essential that trials are designed to provide the necessary data so that researchers know from the outset that they will be able to analyse factors that could contribute to different outcomes for men and women, such as hormonal aspects, possible effects of drug dosage and known differences in biochemical and physiological responses between men and women."
Currently, conclusions for women were mostly reached retrospectively via subgroup, post hoc or meta-analyses, which was unacceptable, she said.
Dr Stangl and her team reached their findings after an extensive review of articles on female-specific aspects of drug therapy for chronic cardiovascular diseases.
Although they concluded that there are only slight differences in implications for treatment, they highlighted several key examples of differing response between men and women, or of situations where evidence is unclear. For example: