Sex Differences in Advanced Heart Failure Therapies

Circulation. 2019 Feb 19;139(8):1080-1093. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.037369.


This in-depth review of sex differences in advanced heart failure therapy summarizes the existing literature on implantable cardioverter defibrillators, biventricular pacemakers, mechanical circulatory support, and transplantation with a focus on utilization, efficacy/clinical effectiveness, adverse events, and controversies. One will learn about the controversies regarding efficacy/clinical effectiveness of implantable cardioverter defibrillators and understand why these devices should be implanted in women even if there are sex differences in appropriate shocks. Individuals will learn about the sex differences with biventricular pacemakers with respect to ventricular remodeling and reduction in heart failure hospitalizations/mortality, as well as, possible mechanisms. We will demonstrate sex differences in heart transplantation and waitlist survival. Despite similar survival for women and men with left ventricular assist devices, there are sex differences in adverse events. These devices do successfully bridge women and men to transplant, yet women are less likely than men to have a left ventricular assist at time of listing and time of transplantation. Finally, one will learn about the concerns regarding poor outcome for men who receive female donor hearts and discover this may not be due to sex, but rather size. More research is needed to better understand sex differences and further improve advanced heart failure therapy for both women and men.

Keywords: congestive heart failure; pacemaker; sex; transplantation; ventricular assist device.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Devices
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy* / mortality
  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Electric Countershock* / adverse effects
  • Electric Countershock* / instrumentation
  • Electric Countershock* / mortality
  • Extracorporeal Circulation* / adverse effects
  • Extracorporeal Circulation* / mortality
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Heart Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Heart Transplantation* / mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome