"Fourteen percent of women were re-hospitalized for heart failure, compared to 10 percent of men, after six months," Russo said.
"Device-related complications occurred in 5.9 percent of the women, compared to 3.8 percent of the men," she noted.
In addition, women were also more likely to die in the six months after the ICD was implanted. "Women had a mortality rate of 6.5 percent compared to 5.6 percent in men," Russo said.
Another expert, Dr. Gregg Fonarow, chief of the division of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, said that additional studies are needed to figure out why the gender differences exist.
Fonarow, who was not involved with the study, said the findings echo some previous research.
"Placement of an ICD for primary prevention has been shown to reduce sudden death and all-cause mortality in eligible men and women in randomized clinical trials, and are recommended in national and international guidelines," Fonarow said. "However, prior studies have suggested that women having an ICD placed may be at higher risk for complications and less likely to receive appropriate shocks compared to men," he noted.
"These findings may reflect that women undergoing ICD placement are often older, have more severe heart disease and have more [coexisting] conditions at time of ICD implantation. The mechanisms behind these findings may also be related to differences in body size or other differences in physiology," Fonarow suggested.
Until more is known, Russo said, she advised that women pay attention to their heart health. "If they develop any chest pain, lightheadedness or dizziness, they should seek medical attention early rather than later," she stressed.
Russo's study was not funded by any device makers; it was supported by the American College of Cardiology Foundation's National Cardiovascular Data
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