Study emphasizes importance of women in cardiac research

11/18/04

A recent trial, published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, shows that women with abnormal heart rhythms benefit from implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) as much as men, stressing the importance of including females in future research. Previous studies have raised the concern of possible gender bias, in favor of men, in the evaluation and treatment of heart disease.

The Multicenter UnSustained Tachycardia Trial (MUSTT) studied the influence of gender in 2,202 patients with coronary artery disease and an abnormal heart pumping function across 85 clinical sites. Among the patients studied, characteristics, treatment and outcome were analyzed. The most significant differences noted were that the women in the trial were older, more likely to have had a heart attack within six months of enrollment, more likely to have experienced angina within six weeks prior to enrollment, and less likely to have atrial fibrillation than the men. An overall benefit from the ICD was observed (45% in men and 53% in women) with no significant influence related to gender.

"This [study] has implications for the development of future trials and stresses the importance of making every effort to include women," said Dr. Andrea Russo, lead investigator of MUSTT. "As cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, this also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that women have access to the ICD, in addition to any other life-saving cardiovascular therapies."

According to the study, "it has been suggested that there is gender bias in referral for invasive treatment and this may have an impact on outcome." However, reasons for the differences may be a matter of age, severity of coronary disease, and other risk factors.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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