Sex Differences Revealed: Heart Failure Death Rates

Death rates from heart failure higher for women than men

In this retrospective cohort study, researchers inspected data from over 90 000 patients aged 40 years and older (47% women) over a 5 year period. In one year since they were diagnosed, 16.8% (7,156) of women died, whereas 14.9% (7,138) of men died.

"We found that mortality from heart failure remains high, especially in women; that hospital admissions for heart failure decreased in men but increased in women; and that women and men had different associated comorbidities", the researchers said.

Louise Sun, who is a cardiovascular anesthesiologist at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute said that the new data bring issues to light that people are, actually, "extraordinary" with regards to heart wellbeing.

"Women often have atypical heart disease presentation and often present later in the disease spectrum", she said.

In this study of Ontario residents from 2009 to 20014, the hospital admission rate for women with heart failure increased, whereas the hospital admission rate declined for men over the same period.

It's one of the first studies to take a detailed look at the differences between men and women with heart failure in Ontario and is also different because it looked at patients who had not been initially hospitalized, Dr. Sun said.

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"There's something that we're doing right in men that we're not doing right in women, so that's why we really need to raise awareness of this".

Heart failure alludes to a condition where the heart doesn't direct blood and also it should, which causes inconveniences. All the patients were ambulatory, meaning not hospitalized when diagnosed. These female patients were likely to be quite older and weaker, come from a lower income background and have multiple chronic illnesses. Furthermore, 98 percent of women suffering from heart failure were hospitalized, vs. 91 percent of men.

Mielniczuk says it is important for researchers to learn why there is a gender discrepancy.

Harvard Medical School also revealed that women are more likely than men to develop "small vessel disease", where "blockages occur in the tiny vessels within the heart muscle rather than in the large, surface arteries, which are harder to detect".

There have been great strides in treating the type of heart failure that is more common in men, she said, "unfortunately, we have seen nearly no advancement in the strategy used to treat the heart failure that affects women predominantly". Among other things, it hosts an annual summit on Canadian women's heart health.

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