Sex And Survival: In Some Matters Of The Heart Women Have The Edge

DALLAS, April 13 -- Women with advanced congestive heart failure (CHF) live twice as long as their male counterparts, according to a study in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Lead researcher Kirkwood F. Adams Jr., M.D., at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, says that a woman has a survival advantage even if her CHF is as severe as a man's and she has had the disease for the same duration.

The study is significant because it challenges previous research findings suggesting that the survival advantage of women with heart failure over that of men might be due to differences between men and women in the type of treatment they received and the length of time they had the disease.

The only form of cardiovascular disease that is increasing dramatically in the population is congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body. An estimated 4.6 million Americans have CHF.

"Our analysis also suggests that the trend for increased survival is strongest among a subset of patients --- those with CHF that is not due to ischemia, or lack of blood supply to the heart," says Adams.

Ischemic heart disease results from atherosclerosis caused by fat-laden plaque obstructions that develop in blood vessels. Nonischemic heart failure results from high blood pressure or other factors that can weaken the heart muscle.

Adams' study used data from the Flolan International Randomized Survival Trial (FIRST), which included 359 men and 112 women with "end-stage," or class IV, heart failure. After eliminating patients for whom baseline characteristics were not available, survival data on 331 men and 99 women were compared.

Researchers compared groups that were similar in characteristics such as age, gender, race, weight, diabetes, duration of heart failure and high blood pressure. Other characteristics

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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