Context: Studies comparing outcomes of cardiac care in women vs men yield various results, with some suggesting worse outcomes for women and others suggesting equivalent outcomes.
Objective: To determine whether extent of coronary disease, treatment strategy, and follow-up time influence the risk of death in women vs men among patients who have had cardiac catheterization.
Design, setting, and patients: We studied a large inception cohort by using detailed clinical data from a registry of 37 401 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization in Alberta, Canada, from 1995-2000, with follow-up through December 31, 2001.
Main outcome measures: The risk of death for women vs men was assessed for all patients combined and then in analyses stratified by degree of coronary anatomic risk and by treatment strategy (no revascularization, percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI], coronary artery bypass graft [CABG] surgery). The latter analysis included a graphic assessment of the changing relative risk over time for women vs men.
Results: Women had higher 1-year mortality than men did (5.6% vs 4.6%; P<.001). However, stratified analyses demonstrated that sex differences in risk occurred only early after catheterization and were most apparent among patients undergoing revascularization. The early risk-adjusted relative risks for women vs men were elevated at 3.49 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.95-6.24) for CABG surgery and 2.38 (95% CI, 1.48-3.83) for PCI on day 1 after catheterization, with a subsequent decrease in relative risk over time to equivalence in risk between sexes before 1 year.
Conclusions: Sex-based differences in death rates after cardiac catheterization are time- and treatment-specific. This finding may at least partially explain the discrepancies in results from earlier studies on sex differences in outcomes of cardiac care.