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Researchers Discover Why Females Have Heart Health Advantage

It’s long been known that heart disease develops later in women than men. But the biological reasons why females have a heart health advantage were unknown. New research from the University of Guelph may have solved the mystery.

The interplay between female ovarian hormones and a circadian “clock” molecule protects the heart health of women as they age, according to a new study by U of G researchers.

The findings, published in Cardiovascular Research, could help prevent heart disease as we grow older.

This ground-breaking study has garnered national attention with coverage in CBC News and Yahoo News.

Prof. Tami Martino, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph“This is the first study to demonstrate a link among female ovarian hormones, the circadian system which regulates the body’s day-night cycle, and the observation that women enjoy significant protection against heart disease when compared to men,” said study author Tami Martino, a biomedical sciences professor and director of the University’s Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations.

In earlier studies, Martino’s team found that heart attacks were worse for males than for females of similar age. The research also uncovered a time-of-day effect: heart attacks in males were more severe during sleep.

This led to the idea that the circadian mechanism – tiny clocks in all of our body’s cells which regulate our 24-hour day and night processes – might work differently in male and female hearts.

To test that possibility, the researchers studied old mice with a genetic “clock” mutation that desynchronizes the circadian mechanism.

Read the entire article on the University of Guelph website

The research on the disruption of the circadian rhythm and its connection to heart disease has attracted the attention of international media with stories in CBCNews, YahooNews, Medical Xpress, ScienceNewsline and The Economic Times in India.