Women are more likely to die from heart failure, research has found.
Their chances of dying from the condition, which affects one million Britons, within a year of being diagnosed are 14 per cent higher than men.
The Canadian study also found that women were more likely than men to be admitted to hospital with the condition.
And while hospital admissions had fallen for men due to better care, they were continuing to rise in women. The researchers could not say why the death rates and hospital admissions for heart failure are so much higher for women.
The study revealed there was a perception amongst women and doctors that heart disease was a predominantly male condition
But previous studies have shown women are much more likely to die from heart attacks than men as they do not receive as good care.
Experts say there is a perception among doctors and even among women themselves that heart conditions are a man’s disease, which leads to them being missed.
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is too weak to pump blood round the body and it gradually worsens. Patients commonly develop the condition after a heart attack or due to another problem such as an irregular heart rhythm or high blood pressure.
Researchers from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute looked at 90,707 patients who had been diagnosed with heart failure between 2009 and 2014.
They found that compared to men, women were 14 per cent more likely to die within a year of being diagnosed with the condition than men. Their chances of being admitted to hospital with the condition were also 7 per cent higher than men. British experts said similar gender differences existed in the UK and called for further work to understand why.
Author Dr Louise Sun said: ‘This is the first of a series of studies to examine the sex differences in heart failure incidence, outcomes, care delivery and access in Ontario.
‘We found that mortality from heart failure remains high, especially in women; that hospital admissions for heart failure decreased in men but increased in women; and that women and men had different associated comorbidities. Further studies should focus on sex differences in health-seeking behaviour, medical therapy and response to therapy to improve the outcomes in women.’
Diagnoses of heart failure are on the rise with more than 900,000 adults in the UK affected
Emily McGrath, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Heart failure is a chronic condition that kills thousands of people every year in the UK.
‘Similar to Ontario, our figures show that the condition often affects women differently to men – especially in terms of the health conditions it’s associated with.
‘We’re also seeing a significant increase in people going to hospital with heart failure, as the population ages and more people develop the disease after surviving a heart attack.
‘There are few effective treatments for heart failure, so better understanding the differences in how it presents in men and women could lead to promising avenues of research into new ways to treat and prevent it.’
Heart failure affects around 900,000 adults in the UK and the incidence is rising as the population is aging.