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November 27, 1995

Gender Differences in Device Therapy for Malignant Ventricular Arrhythmias

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Lankenau Hospital and Medical Research Center, Wynnewood, Pa (Drs Horton, Marinchak, Rials, and Kowey), and the Department of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa (Drs Marinchak, Rials, and Kowey).

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(21):2342-2345. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430210092014

Background:  Several recent reports have suggested a gender bias in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not clear whether this is true in the treatment of malignant ventricular arrhythmias.

Objectives:  To perform a retrospective chart review of 130 patients evaluated for malignant ventricular arrhythmias between July 1990 and June 1992. To compare baseline cardiovascular and clinical parameters and treatment modalities, including cardioverter-defibrillator implantation rates, between women and men.

Results:  There was no significant difference in the percentage of women and men who were advised to have cardioverter-defibrillator implantation (61% vs 53%) or who underwent cardioverter-defibrillator implantation (46% vs 52%). Women had a lower incidence of coronary artery disease than men (61% vs 85%, P<.01), a lower incidence of myocardial infarction (46% vs 75%, P<.01), and a higher mean left ventricular ejection fraction (38% vs 32%, P=.02). Of patients with indications for cardioverter-defibrillator implantation, significantly more women refused a device than men (19% vs 2%, P=.01), and significantly more women were considered medically ineligible for cardioverter-defibrillator implantation despite having less severe heart disease as a group (12% vs 0%, P=.04). This resulted in significantly fewer women receiving a defibrillator than men with similar indications (18 of 26 women vs 47 of 48 men, P<.01). Of patients who received defibrillators, significantly more women received investigational devices (50%) than men (21%) (P<.05) (35% of women and 19% of men with indication for cardioverter-defibrillator implantation). Inhospital mortality was low in both groups (women, 0%; men, 4%). The 30-month mortality in patients with indications for device intervention was similar in both groups (women, 21%; men, 19%).

Conclusions:  No evidence of difference was found between women and men in the rates of recommendation for, or implantation of, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. Women refused device implantation more often than men, and they may be considered medically ineligible for device implantation more than men. This combination results in fewer women with medical indications for cardioverter-defibrillator implantation receiving defibrillators than men. This difference does not appear to be associated with increased short-term mortality.(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:2342-2345)