Women receive greater benefit from cardiac resynchronization therapy with defibrillator (CRT-D) than men, says study. Women who underwent this therapy showed 70 percent reduction in heart failure and 72 percent reduction in death.
"In prior cardiac studies, men and women generally received similar benefit from preventive medical therapy," said cardiologist Arthur J. Moss, professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center 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."
Historically, heart disease has been dominated by its association with men. But, thanks to successful awareness campaigns in recent years, such as the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women initiative, women have started to take note of their risks and take action to protect their health.
In women with mild heart failure, CRT-D therapy effectively prevented deterioration of the heart, otherwise known as cardiac remodeling, by preventing enlargement of the heart with more effective contraction of the heart.
Study authors investigated the reasons for the significantly better result in women than men. Women in the study were more likely to have non-ischemic heart disease, a disorder typically characterized by inflammatory scarring of the heart muscle, while men had a greater likelihood of ischemic heart disease - otherwise known as coronary artery disease - where narrowed arteries restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Additionally, more women had left bundle branch block, a condition that results in disorganized electrical activity throughout the heart.
Because left bundle branch block and non-ischemic heart disease lead to diffuse, as opposed to localized, heart problems, study authors reasoned women were more responsive to CRT-D therapy, a treatment that strengthens the overall mechanical pumping action of the heart and coordinates the heart's electrical activity.
"It's not that men did poorly in the trial, but rather, women had really fantastic results, likely due to they type of heart disease we see more commonly in women," noted Moss.
CRT-D therapy combines an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which is designed to prevent sudden, rhythm-related cardiac death, with cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), which improves heart function with a reduction in heart failure and associated symptoms.
The study is published in the current Journal of the American College of Cardiology.