Skip to main content

Past Event

Sex differences in cardiovascular disease

About the Author

Mark Woodward, Professor of Statistics and Epidemiology, Medical Sciences Division

Professor Mark Woodward

Professor Woodward received MSc and PhD degrees from the Department of Applied Statistics, University of Reading. He is the author of well over 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has written two textbooks in medical statistics (Woodward and Francis, 1987 and Woodward, 2014: 3rd edition). He serves on the management committees, acting as the senior statistician, of several large trials, such as ADVANCE, and is an Associate Editor of Statistics in Medicine and Women’s Health. Professor Woodward is Chairman of the Asia Pacific Cohort Studies Collaboration, which has produced over 50 publications under his leadership. As well as his post at Oxford, he is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Sydney and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in the US, holding visiting professorships at four additional universities. Formerly, he headed the Biostatistics Core in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He has worked for several international aid organisations, and led the statistical work for the UN’s training programme for the Millennium Development Goals.


Age-standardised rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are substantially higher in men than women. Hence CVD has traditionally been seen as a “man’s problem”. However, CVD is the leading cause of death in women, worldwide, and is one of the most common causes of disability-adjusted life-years lost. In general, this is under-recognised and, in several ways, women are disadvantaged in terms of CVD. Both in primary and secondary prevention, there is evidence that women are undertreated, compared to men. Women often experience heart disease in a different way to men, and lack of recognition of this has been shown to have adverse consequences. Female patients of male cardiac physicians have been found to have worse outcomes than their male counterparts, with no such gender differential for female cardiologists. Clinical trials in CVD primarily recruit male patients, yet it is well recognised that some drugs act differently in women and men. Diabetes and smoking, and other risk factors, confer a greater excess proportional cardiovascular risk in women than men, whilst adverse pregnancies and factors concerned with the female reproductive cycle give women added vulnerability to CVD. However, women’s health research is skewed towards mother and child health, an area where arguably the greatest public health gains have already been made, and breast cancer. Hence there is a need to redefine what is meant by “women’s health” to encompass the whole lifecycle, with a stronger emphasis on CVD and other non-communicable diseases. Sex-specific analyses of research data should be the norm, whenever feasible.


Woodward M. Cardiovascular Disease and the Female Disadvantage. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Apr 1;16(7). pii: E1165. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16071165.

Norton R, Peters S, Jha V, Kennedy S, Woodward M. Women’s Health: A New Global Agenda. Oxford Martin Policy Paper, University of Oxford, 2016.

This event is part of a seminar series:

Trinity 2019 Seminar Series: Qualitative & Quantitative Methods for Big Data: A journey through social, medical and natural sciences

Trinity Term 2019 Seminar Series Qualitative & Quantitative Methods for Big Data: A journey through social, medical and natural sciences Seminar Room: 66 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PR Convener: Dr Sara Zella

Event Details

23 May 2019 14:00 - 15:30