Special pacemaker benefits women more

Women with heart failure are less likely to get a special kind of pacemaker than men, but more likely to benefit from the device, a government analysis suggests.

CHICAGO — Women with heart failure are less likely to get a special kind of pacemaker than men, but more likely to benefit from the device, a government analysis suggests.

The findings come from the first study of its kind conducted by researchers at the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has done similar analyses of prescription drugs, but not of medical devices, said lead author Dr. David Strauss, an FDA medical officer.

Relatively few women have been included in studies of pacemakers and other medical devices, which “has made it difficult to assess differences in the safety and effectiveness of these devices for women vs. men,” Strauss said.

The study authors said it’s unclear why women would benefit more from these special pacemakers but possibilities include differences in physiology and body size.

It’s also uncertain why the pacemakers are used less in women but an editorial published with the study says heart devices in general are more commonly used in men, possibly because of scarce scientific evidence that they work in women.

The researchers pooled results in three previous pacemaker studies, involving more than 4,000 patients, mostly men.

Still, there were 878 women included — enough to assess gender differences in treatment results, the researchers said.

Their analysis was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Pacemakers are small devices implanted in the chest that emit electrical signals to regulate the heartbeat.

They are often used to treat heart failure, which occurs when the heart muscle has weakened and can’t efficiently pump blood.

Those studied are a special kind called cardiac resynchronization devices, and include a defibrillator to detect and zap life-threatening beats. They are used to treat a particular type of heart failure involving the two lower chambers of the heart.

Women who got the special pacemakers were 60 per cent less likely to die or develop heart failure-related complications during two years of follow-up than those who got implanted defibrillators alone. For men, the risk reduction was just 26 per cent.

The difference in benefits was even greater for women with a specific abnormality — 76 per cent were less like to die or develop complications.

There was no pacemaker benefit for men in this group. About 20 per cent of women studied and 15 per cent of the men had that irregularity.

In absolute terms, the special pacemakers helped an additional 23 women out of every 100 with that abnormality avoid complications or death during the follow-up.

Of about 100,000 Americans receiving the special pacemakers per year, fewer than 30 per cent are women, 2010 data suggest.

Strauss said it is unclear exactly how many more women should be using these devices, but “more than a handful.”

But Strauss said the study has “a bigger picture message” about the importance of including women and other under-represented patients in medical research to find out if treatments work differently.

While heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women and men, a JAMA Internal Medicine editorial notes heart conditions often affect them differently.

For example: Women sometimes have different heart attack symptoms than men and more depression afterward; some kinds of heart failure are more common in women; and they respond differently to certain heart medicines.

Just Posted

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

Heat warning in effect for Central Alberta

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Central Alberta. Residents in… Continue reading

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month