Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Women With Atrial Fibrillation Are At Significantly Higher Risk Of Stroke And Death Compared To Men

Date:
September 23, 2009
Source:
Rush University Medical Center
Summary:
Even though the incidence of atrial fibrillation is higher in men than women, a review of past studies and medical literature shows that women are more likely than men to experience symptomatic attacks, a higher frequency of recurrences, and significantly higher heart rates during atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke.

Even though the incidence of atrial fibrillation is higher in men than women, a review of past studies and medical literature completed by cardiac experts at Rush University Medical Center shows that women are more likely than men to experience symptomatic attacks, a higher frequency of recurrences, and significantly higher heart rates during atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke.

Related Articles


Findings from the review of past studies will be published in the September issue of Gender Medicine.

Atrial fibrillation is a cardiovascular disorder affecting 2.2 million people in the United States. During atrial fibrillation, the heart's atria, which are two small upper chambers, quiver instead of beating effectively. Blood isn't pumped completely out of the atria, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results.

In recent years, women have surpassed men in both prevalence and mortality due to cardiovascular disease.

“Stroke is one of the most devastating results of cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke,” said cardiologist Dr. Annabelle Volgman, medical director of the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center and principal investigator of the study. “Women are at higher risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke than men and are more likely to live with stroke-related disability which can significantly lower quality of life.”

“We reviewed past studies addressing gender differences in atrial fibrillation over a 20 year period in order to pinpoint the gender differences for women versus men with atrial fibrillation. As a result, we were able to determine the most rational, safe and effective gender-specific approach to therapy for women,” said Volgman.

Researchers identified the following gender differences for women versus men with atrial fibrillation and developed the following management recommendations:

  • Women have a higher incidence of stroke and mortality than do men.
    Emphasize therapies to prevent atrial fibrillation and ensure safe management once diagnosed.
  • Women are not prescribed blood thinners (anticoagulation therapy) as often as are men, which results in a higher incidence of formation of blood clots that break loose and block other vessels.
    Assess the risk/benefit ratio individually for each woman with atrial fibrillation.
  • Women have a greater risk of bleeding from anticoagulation therapy than do men.
    Monitor anticoagulation therapy carefully to avoid bleeding.
  • Women have a higher risk of life-threatening arrhythmias and slow heart rates requiring permanent pacing when treated with antiarrhythmic drugs.
    Monitor female patients taking antiarrhythmia drugs carefully.
  • Women have hormonal fluctuations.
    Be aware that hormonal fluctuations during the normal menstrual cycle can cause more life-threatening arrhythmias.
  • Women have a higher risk of low potassium levels in the blood, increasing the risk of drug-related arrhythmias.
    Monitor serum and potassium levels carefully.
  • Women have a higher sensitivity to supportive therapies such as statins and vasodilators.
    Pay close attention to hepatic and renal function.
  • Women are referred less often or later for non-drug management such as pacemaker implantation or ablation.
    Remember that ablative therapy is an option for symptomatic women because of similar success rates in men.
  • Women with atrial fibrillation have a lower quality of life.
    Careful assessment of symptoms, symptom relief, and adequate rate control or rhythm control can improve quality of life.

“For women with atrial fibrillation, these gender differences should always be kept in mind to help prevent strokes and heart failure and improve their quality of life,” said Volgman.

Other researchers involved in the study were Dr. Richard Trohman, director of electrophysiology, arrhythmia and pacemaker services at Rush, Dr. Disha Mookherjee, cardiology fellow at Rush, and Dr. Marian Manankil cardiology fellow at Illinois Masonic Medical Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rush University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rush University Medical Center. "Women With Atrial Fibrillation Are At Significantly Higher Risk Of Stroke And Death Compared To Men." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922123929.htm>.
Rush University Medical Center. (2009, September 23). Women With Atrial Fibrillation Are At Significantly Higher Risk Of Stroke And Death Compared To Men. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922123929.htm
Rush University Medical Center. "Women With Atrial Fibrillation Are At Significantly Higher Risk Of Stroke And Death Compared To Men." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922123929.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins