A new study showed that significant differences in the life expectancies between men and women may be due to vulnerability to heart disease. Study findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology and University of Wisconsin-Madison examined lifespans of people born between 1800–1935 in 13 nations. Data showed differences in mortality were concentrated in the 50–70 years age range and then sharply faded after age 80.

RELATED: Death Rate Climbs With Each Cardiometabolic Condition

Among adults born after 1880, the death rate in women decreased 70% faster than the death rate in men. Smoking made up 30% of the difference in mortality between men and women after 1890. After controlling for smoking-related illness, cardiovascular disease was still the major cause of the majority of excess deaths in adult men over 40 years old for the same time period.

Study findings bring to question whether different genders have varying heart disease risks due to inherent biological risks and/or protective factors at various points in their lives. Researchers added that future research can include an evaluation of diet and exercise activity, differences between countries, genetic, and biological vulnerability between men and women at the cellular level, and the association of these findings to brain health.

For more information visit News.USC.edu.