Women With Heart Failure Less Likely To Be Referred For Specialty Care

Jennifer L. Cook, MD FAHA Assistant Professor of Medicine | Heart Failure and Transplantation Medical Director Left Ventricular Assist Device Program Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC 29425MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer L. Cook, MD FAHA
Assistant Professor of Medicine | Heart Failure and Transplantation
Medical Director Left Ventricular Assist Device Program
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC 29425

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cook: Although the incidence of heart failure is similar in men and women, women are more likely to die from it.  Despite this fact a common misperception persists that men are at greater risk.  Although advanced therapies such as mechanical support are as effective in women as in men, women are less likely to receive mechanical support.  In clinical trials investigating mechanical support as a bridge to transplant less than 30% of patients were women.  In trials investigating mechanical support for patients ineligible for heart transplant even fewer were women, less than 20%.  .

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Cook: It has been shown that women with heart failure are more likely to remain under the care of a primary physician instead of being referred for specialized cardiovascular care.  The explanation for this pattern is not understood.  It is important to raise awareness and emphasize the high risk of heart failure mortality among women.


Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Cook: Once referred for specialized heart failure care there are barriers to mechanical support.  Investigation among mechanical support patients has not been done however in the heart transplant population it is known that women frequently opt out of advanced surgical therapy.  This warrants investigation as there are likely unmet educational and psychosocial needs in this population.

Medical Research: What is the role of the genVAD working group and what is the group’s purpose?

Dr. Cook: The genVAD working group came together because of the views of several of us that questions regarding sex specific differences in the treatment of patients with advanced heart failure have yet to be answered. The group includes investigators who represent diverse perspectives in advanced heart failure and mechanical support.  The group’s specific purpose is to progress our understanding sex specific differences in mechanical support.  Our goals are to raise awareness of the high risk profile in women, address barriers to consideration of mechanical support, advance scientific knowledge sex differences and ultimately improve the access to care and clinical outcomes among women.

Citation:

Sex Differences in the Care of Patients With Advanced Heart Failure
Jennifer L. Cook, Kathleen L. Grady, Monica Colvin, Susan M. Joseph, Meredith A. Brisco, and Mary Norine Walsh for the genVAD Working Group

Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2015; published online before print February 24 2015, doi:10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.115.001730

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jennifer L. Cook, MD FAHA (2015). Women With Heart Failure Less Likely To Be Referred For Specialty Care