Heart Health

08 February 2011

Heart therapy works better in women

For the first time in the history of heart disease research, a certain type of treatment has proven more effective in women than in men.


For the first time in the history of heart disease research, a certain type of treatment has proven more effective in women than in men, according to a study.

The research found that women saw a 70% reduction in heart failure compared to men who saw a 35% drop when using cardiac resynchronisation therapy with defibrillator (CRT-D), indicating it works twice as well in women.

"In prior cardiac studies, men and women generally received similar benefit from preventive medical therapy," said cardiologist Arthur Moss, professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study.

"Our finding was unexpected, but extremely important because this is the only heart treatment that is clearly better in women than men."

CRT-D works via an implanted device that helps guard against sudden death from irregular heart rhythm by co-ordinating the heart's electrical activity, and also helps strengthen pumping action in patients with heart damage.

Difference in heart diseases

Researchers think it may work better in women because they tend to suffer from a different kind of heart disease than men.

Men in the study were more likely to have coronary artery disease, in which narrowed vessels restrict blood flow to the heart. The condition is also known as ischemic heart disease.

Women in the study were more likely to suffer from a disorder known as non-ischemic heart disease, which involves more generalised scarring of heart tissue.

More women also tended to have "left bundle branch block, a condition that results in disorganised electrical activity throughout the heart," the study said.

Women have fantastic results

"It's not that men did poorly in the trial, but rather, women had really fantastic results, likely due to the type of heart disease we see more commonly in women," said Moss.

About four million Americans are candidates for CRT-D treatment, which was initially developed for patients with severe heart failure but was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2010 for patients with mild heart failure.

Heart disease is the top killer of women in the United States, and kills more women annually than it does men.

The American Heart Association says 42 million American women have heart disease, and 450,000 women died of it in 2005.

(Sapa, February 2011)

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