AHA News: Women and Men Tolerate Heart Transplants Equally Well, But Men May Get Better Hearts

FRIDAY, Oct. 11, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Women are just as likely as men to survive after a heart transplant despite often getting poorer-quality donor hearts, new research shows.

The findings, published this week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, sought to shed new light on what role, if any, gender plays in surviving a heart transplant. Past research on post-transplant survival rates and gender have told conflicting stories.

For the new study, researchers looked at data from 34,198 international heart transplant recipients from 2004 to 2014 and, after adjusting for recipient and donor factors, they found “no significant survival difference” between men and women.

“That’s a pretty novel finding,” said study author Dr. Yasbanoo Moayedi, a postdoctoral medical fellow at Stanford University in California. “We already know that women are hugely under-represented as recipients of heart transplants, but the striking thing about the new findings is there’s no difference in survival when matched to their male counterparts.”

The study also found women who get heart transplants appear to have lower-risk features than male recipients, with fewer instances of diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, peripheral vascular disease and past cardiovascular surgery. Yet, women appear to receive higher-risk hearts than men.

“We need to better understand the matching of risk with recipient,” Moayedi said. “We hypothesize that women tend to deteriorate more acutely, and they’re sicker, so they take any heart that’s available.”

She said the findings suggest women with advanced heart failure need to be referred a bit earlier for transplant.

“One takeaway of the study is that maybe we’re missing the optimal window [for women],” she said. “Many factors may determine access to transplant, but gender should not be one of the them.”

The study was limited by its observational nature and its lack of data on waitlist mortalities, donor race and information about how sick patients where when they received a transplant.

Dr. Monica Colvin, a heart failure-transplant cardiologist who was not involved in the research, called it “a contemporary analysis” because it included newer devices and current medical therapy.

“There have been anecdotes of women having worse survival than men after heart transplant and studies have been conflicting,” said Colvin, director of the Heart Failure Network Strategy at the University of Michigan. “This study should dispel that myth and inform doctors that there really is no difference. We should not delay or defer referral for this lifesaving treatment based on concern for differential survival in women.”

An estimated 6.2 million U.S. adults have heart failure. In 2018, there were 3,408 heart transplants, according to the federal Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Moayedi would like to see future studies explore why more women don’t undergo heart transplants and how a doctor’s gender might play into that decision.

“Is it that women don’t see themselves worthy enough for a heart transplant? As a patient, should I be more of an advocate for my symptoms? These things need to be looked at more systematically to learn how to best help the patient,” Moayedi said.

Colvin advises women with advanced heart failure to be seen at an advanced heart failure center “and seek out as much information as they can. It’s important to know what all your options are.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Tennis Skills Decline Equally in Male, Female Pros

SATURDAY, Sept. 8, 2018 — With the U.S. Open championship set to conclude Sunday in New York City, a new study shows that male and female professional tennis players have the same rate of age-related declines in physical ability.

This was a surprising finding because men and women have different patterns of aging, according to the researchers at the University of Exeter in England.

The researchers’ analysis of data on first-serve speed and accuracy among 100 of the world’s top male and female players revealed peaks in power (about age 26) and accuracy (about age 28), followed by declines in both.

“We know men and women age differently, and wanted to test when these differences start to emerge,” researcher Ruth Archer said in a university news release.

“We know, for example, that women live longer than men, but have poorer health later in life. And studies in other sports have suggested women’s performances begin to decline earlier than men,” she added.

“However, we found remarkably similar patterns of performance decay in male and female tennis players,” Archer said.

“One possible explanation for this is that we studied a dataset of ‘outliers’ — people at the upper extreme of human capabilities,” she said. “Alternatively, selection may not lead to the evolution of differences at this age as they do later in life.”

The researchers also found that men serve faster, but less accurately, than women. In both sexes, accuracy tended to increase as power declined, according to the study published recently in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

More information

Tips on how to protect your health as you age can be found at healthfinder.gov.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2018

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