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Gender May Influence Heart Failure Treatment

Care varies for men and women, and by male and female doctors, study finds

THURSDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Drug treatment for heart failure is influenced by the gender of the patient and the doctor, according to German researchers who evaluated 1,857 patients and the treatment records of 829 physicians.

The study found that female patients were less likely to receive guideline-recommended medications, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and beta blockers. Women also received lower doses than men, the study found.

And, drug treatment was more complete, the researchers said, when patients received care from a female doctor.

The use of ACE inhibitors and ARBs was lower in female patients treated by male doctors than in male patients treated by either female or male doctors. The dose of ACE inhibitors and ARBs was highest in male patients treated by female doctors and was lower in female patients treated by male doctors. Use of beta blockers in male patients was not affected by the doctor's gender, but female patients treated by male doctors received lower doses of beta blockers than did male patients.

The findings were published in the European Journal of Heart Failure.

"The use of evidence-based treatments as described in the latest guidelines has undoubtedly improved the treatment of chronic heart failure," Dr. Magnus Baumhäkel, of the University Hospital of the Saarland in Homburg, Germany, and a study author, said in a European Society of Cardiology news release. "But there is still evidence of a gender imbalance in both patients and physicians. From our results, it seems fair to say that the gender of the physician plays an important role in adherence to drug treatment recommendations in chronic heart failure."

A number of recent studies have identified gender differences in medical care and survival among people with cardiovascular disease. Many of the studies found that women are treated less intensively than men, especially in the acute phase of the disease.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about medicines used to treat heart failure.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, Jan. 21, 2009

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