Women Have Stronger Hearts Than Men

Females with chronic heart failure have better longevity than male counterparts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Heart failure may affect affect a similar proportion of men and women, but gender is still influencing the longevity of chronic heart failure patients.

Women suffering from chronic heart failure tend to live longer then men. Researchers said the findings are just coming to light because previous trials have been dominated by men with heart failure.

"Visit a cardiologist regularly if you have been diagnosed with heart failure."

Dr. Manuel Martinez-Selles, the study's lead researcher from the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital in Spain, said that women with heart failure may be living longer because the female heart responds differently to injury as compared to the male heart. He said some of the advantage could be tied to pregnancy and gender-specific differences in the way genes are expressed.

During the Meta-Analysis Global Group in Chronic Heart Failure (MAGGIC) review study, investigators examined data from 31 randomized and observational studies involving 28,052 men and 13,897 women with chronic heart failure. Researchers analyzed the studies for survival over three years of follow up. They found that 25.3 percent of women and 25.7 percent of men died during the follow up period.

Investigators, however, found that after adjusting for age men had a 31 percent higher risk of dying than women, and that being male was an independent risk factor for death at three years. This was despite the discovery that women were prescribed fewer heart failure treatments, such as beta blockers, than men.

They also found that heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction, a measure of the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts, which can signify heart function; were less likely to die than those with reduced ejection fraction.

Though the finding may seem obvious, it helps explain the longevity of women since preserved ejection fraction is more common among female patients. Patients with preserved, or normal, function, can be expected to live longer.

Other study findings indicated that women with chronic heart failure tended to be older, more likely to have a history of high blood pressure and diabetes, but that their heart failure was less likely to be caused by a reduced blood supply.

The research was recently published in the European Journal of Heart Failure.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 16, 2012
Last Updated:
March 17, 2012