Study Questions Heart Device for Women
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) May Not Curb Death in Women With Heart Failure, Research Review Shows
Sept. 14, 2009 -- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) may not
reduce deaths in women with heart failure, according to a new research
The review, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is based
on data from five studies that together included 3,810 men and 934 women with
heart failure. Some of the patients got ICDs surgically implanted; others got
medical care that didn't include getting an ICD.
Among men, ICDs were lifesavers. Men who got ICDs were 22% less likely to
die than men who didn't get ICDs.
But it was a different story for women. There was no difference in the odds
of dying from any cause between women who got an ICD and those who didn't. The
likelihood of death was no better -- or worse -- with or without an ICD for
The reasons for that aren't clear, note the researchers, who included Hamid
Ghanbari, MD, of the cardiology department at the Providence Hospital Heart
Institute and Medical Center in Southfield, Mich.
Ghanbari's team speculates that ICDs may be better suited for men because of
some underlying differences between men and women. The researchers also point
out that ICDs have mainly been studied in men, so more research is needed to
identify women would benefit the most from ICDs.
"Ghanbari et al rightly conclude that further studies are needed," Rita
Redberg, MD, writes in an editorial published with the review.
Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco and
an editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine, sums up the review's
findings this way:
"ICDs are being implanted in hundreds of thousands of women without
substantial evidence of benefit, apparently based on the assumption that, to
paraphrase the old saying, 'What's good for the gander is good for the