WEDNESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women are more likely than men to experience complications and to die within six months of getting an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, according to new research that looked at nearly 39,000 patients.
"Women, when they come for treatment, are much sicker in general," said study author Dr. Andrea Russo, a cardiologist at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, N.J. "That may be one of the reasons why their results are different."
Russo is scheduled to present the findings Wednesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, in Los Angeles.
For the study, Russo's team looked at the results of ICD implants given to 38,912 patients, 25 percent of them women, between 2006 and 2009. The researchers retrieved the information from the ICD registry, which is part of the National Cardiovascular Data Registry. This registry includes about 90 percent of all ICDs implanted in the United States.
About 10,000 ICDs a month are implanted, according to registry records, Russo said.
When the heart rhythm becomes abnormal, the device can help restore normal rhythm. It is implanted under the skin, typically in the chest, and has wires with electrodes on the end that connect to the chambers of the heart.
If an irregular rhythm is detected, the device sends out low energy electrical pulses. "It shocks the heart back to normal," Russo explained, and can help prevent sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs about 295,000 times a year in the United States, according to the heart association.
Russo's team looked at results 30 days, 90 days and six months after the ICD was implanted. They wanted to see if there were any differences between men and women in terms of complications, such as surgical problems or device-related problems, in hospital readmissions due to heart failure or in death rates.
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