Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in women. We suggest the need to develop a paradigm that connects sex- and age-specific nontraditional risk factors that serve as a common mechanism ultimately leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Vascular injury with abnormal repair leading to functional, rather than structural, abnormalities can be regarded as accelerated vascular aging. It emerges as a common feature that can trigger the early diagnosis and risk stratification for cardiovascular disease in women. We discuss sex-specific risk factors that can contribute to vascular injury with age, and these might not always be considered by cardiovascular physicians. It is important for the primary physician to be aware of these risk factors to enable more intensified management of this at-risk population. Novel technologies that allow the assessment of vascular function noninvasively can serve as key diagnostic and therapeutic tools with which we can identify such individuals and target therapy to manage this important patient population appropriately and effectively. We hope that this article will stimulate interest in this field and encourage further research in these important areas.
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