Duke researchers highlight gender differences in heart failure

DURHAM, N.C. -- Women tend to live longer with heart failure than do men, and they also tend to have a less severe form of the disease, which is characterized by reduced performance of the heart muscle, according to a study by Duke University Medical Center cardiologists.

Having a better understanding of gender differences in heart failure may help physicians to more effectively tailor prevention or treatment strategies to specific patients, the researchers said, adding that studies to date have provided relatively little insight into such differences.

"There is limited data available to help us understand the differences between the genders when it comes to the causes of heart failure and how patients fare with the disease," said cardiology fellow Camille Frazier, M.D., who presented the results of the study on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, in Chicago.

"As we uncovered in our analysis, there are important differences between men and women who have heart failure," Frazier added. "These differences not only point to fertile areas for future research, but can help us to deliver better quality care to our patients."

The study was supported by Duke's Division of Cardiology.

Heart failure is a condition marked by the inability of the heart muscle to pump enough blood to the body's tissues. Despite its name, not everyone with the disease dies immediately, and many people live for years. It is estimated that 50 percent of heart failure patients die within five years of initial diagnosis.

In their analysis, Frazier and colleagues studied the two most common forms of heart failure: ischemic and nonischemic. In the ischemic form, an individual's heart muscle is either damaged or killed over time as blood flow to the heart is reduced, usually by a blockage in the coronary arteries, and the heart is deprived of its needed supply of oxygen. This condition frequ

Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center

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