Women’s blood vessels age at a faster rate than men’s, suggesting a reason for differences seen in heart disease risk, say investigators from Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles.

When they analyzed 43-years-worth of blood pressure data from patients across the lifespan, the study team discovered that women showed much earlier signs of blood pressure elevation. The risk for developing heart attack, heart failure, or stroke is linked to high blood pressure.

“Our research not only confirms that women have different biology and physiology than their male counterparts,” said senior author Susan Cheng, M.D. “[It] also illustrates why it is that women may be more susceptible to developing certain types of cardiovascular disease and at different points in life.”

For example, it is likely that a 30-year-old woman with high blood pressure has a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than a man with high blood pressure at the same age, Cheng said.

The research was published in JAMA Cardiology.