A common misconception about heart disease is that it's a man's disease. But statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA) show that mortality due to cardiovascular disease has been higher in women than in men every year since 1984. And with more than 500,000 female deaths each year, that gap is increasing.¹ "The harsh fact is," says the AHA," cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 killer of women and men " [emphasis added].
Heart failure, in particular, is an equal opportunity disease. Of the 262,300 U.S. deaths due to heart failure in 2000, 62.4 percent were female, 37.6 percent were male. However, the relative importance of certain risk factors may be different for women than for men. A study published in 2002 found that the lifetime risk of heart failure for women with no history of heart attack was only slightly lower than the lifetime risk of those women who had suffered a heart attack.² In other words, a past heart attack may not be as important a risk factor for women as it is for men, whose risk of heart failure doubles with a heart attack. Data obtained in the study suggested that high blood pressure is the most important risk factor for heart failure in women.
Following diagnosis of heart failure, women fare somewhat better than men, but less than 15 percent survive beyond 8-12 years. The best way to increase survival in both women and men is to catch the condition early and optimally use the available treatments to address it.
Treatment options for women and men with heart failure are basically the same. Individual considerations will govern the choice of treatment at a given stage. If an implantable assist device is indicated for a woman at an advanced stage of the disease, for example, her body size may determine which devices are viable. An important advantage of the Jarvik 2000 FlowMaker® in such a case is its small size. The Jarvik 2000 is small enough to fit in about 95% of adult women in the United States.
¹American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2003 Update. Dallas, Tex.: American Heart Association; 2002.
²"Lifetime Risk for Developing Congestive Heart Failure: The Framingham Heart Study." Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, and co-authors. Circulation, 2002 (106:3068).