Heart Failure Different in Women
Study Explores Gender Differences in Risk Factors, Survival
WebMD News Archive
Half of Heart Failure Patients Are Women continued...
In one national survey, which included more than 8,000 women with heart
failure, more than a fourth (27%) had high blood pressure and just 3% had
coronary artery disease.
But having coronary artery disease was more likely to lead to heart failure
among women than high blood pressure.
Other sex-specific differences identified in the review included:
- As with heart disease in general, women tend to be older than men when they
develop heart failure.
- Survival among women with heart failure is better than for men with the
disease. The reasons for this remain unclear.
- Women with heart failure are more likely to be sicker than men and have
more hospital stays. They are also more likely to suffer from depression than
Does Gender Affect Treatment Outcomes?
The retrospective analysis suggests that gender may be a factor in the
effectiveness of certain heart failure treatments.
Treatment benefits were seen in women with heart failure who received
beta-blockers, aldosterone antagonists, and pacemakers.
Clear benefits were not seen with other treatments including ACE inhibitors
and implantable defibrillators, but Hsich says this doesn’t mean these
therapies are not useful in women.
“My guess is all these treatments work, but some may not work as well as
they do in men,” she says. “We need more trials with sex-specific data to
figure this out.”
Cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of New York University’s
Women’s Heart Program and author of several books exploring heart health in
“Clearly we need more studies examining sex-specific differences in
responses to the treatments for heart failure and heart disease in general,”
she tells WebMD.
She says campaigns by the American Heart Association and the National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute have succeeded in raising awareness about the
importance of aggressively treating heart symptoms in women.
But she adds that too little is known about how gender affects heart disease
diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes.
“Women need to be asked to participate, and they need to be willing to
participate in clinical trials,” she says. “Even if it doesn’t help them, it
might help their daughters and granddaughters.”