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Heart Failure May Be More Lethal in Women

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Heart Failure May Be More Lethal in Women

Men tend to get heart failure more often than women do, but women are more likely to die from the disease.

By Nicholas Bakalar


The incidence of heart failure has declined overall in both sexes in recent years and remains higher in men. But women are more likely to die from the disease.

A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal included 90,707 new diagnoses of heart failure among Ontario residents from 2009 to 2014. Almost 17 percent of women died within a year of follow-up, compared with just under 15 percent of men. Rates of hospitalization decreased over the study period in men and increased in women.

Part of the explanation may be that men are more likely to have a form of heart failure that can often be treated without the need for hospitalization, whereas women more often suffer a different type with few effective therapies. Also, women tend to present with symptoms that are different from men’s and not always as readily identifiable as heart failure.

Women in the study were more likely to be older and to have other diseases along with heart failure. But even after controlling for these and many other factors, death rates were still higher in women.

“Public awareness is important, and for some reason heart failure doesn’t get much attention,” said the lead author, Dr. Louise Y. Sun, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. “Part of this research is to bring about awareness — among doctors, patients and researchers.”

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