By Alexandra Sifferlin
October 20, 2015

New research finds the hearts of men and women don’t age in the same way, suggesting a possible benefit for gender-based treatments in the future.

In the study published Tuesday in the journal Radiology, researchers looked at MRI scans of nearly 3,000 adult hearts over time. The men and women were between age 54 to 94, and were followed between 2002 to 2012 at six different U.S. hospitals. The men and women underwent MRI testing at the beginning of the study and again 10 years later.

MORE: Here’s How To Find Out Your Real Heart Age

Over the study period, the researchers found that the people’s left ventricle in their heart increased about eight grams in men, but decreased by around 1.6 grams in women. The amount of blood the left ventricle could hold between heart beats dropped among both sexes but more significantly among women by around 3 milliliters.

Heart failure is the weakening of the heart muscle and loss of its ability to pump. The researchers note that common practice is to lower heart failure risk by prescribing medications that reduce heart thickness overtime. But if women’s heart muscles tend to shrink or retain its size over time, that suggests they may not gain the same benefit from these treatments as men do, the researchers argue.

The researchers say more research is needed to determine the mechanism the underline the observed gender differences, but that their findings suggest the possibility that heart disease may need more personalized treatments to address biological and gender differences.

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