February 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Men Often Get Better Pacemakers But Reason For Women Getting Less Sophisticated Heart Regulator Not Determined

Associated Press
 

Men are regularly given a more sophisticated pacemaker than women, a choice that may affect a patient’s survival, the author of a new study said Wednesday.

The reasons, however, could be anything from gender bias to the size of the implants.

The study found that men were 18 percent more likely than women to get the more advanced pacemaker, called a dual-chamber device because it electrically stimulates two of the heart’s chambers, said Dr. Gervasio Lamas, chief of cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla.

It also found that recipients of dual-chamber pacemakers were likely to be younger, white or male, and in a hospital that was large, urban, private or in the West.

His report, published this week in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, says doctors may prefer to implant the smaller, singlechamber pacemaker in small people, including women, to avoid complications or to achieve a better cosmetic result. The devices are placed under the skin of the chest.

This hypothesis could not be tested because the study’s team did not have sufficient information on body weight and height.

Guidelines issued by the Dallasbased association and the American College of Cardiology also may contribute to the bias because they advise doctors to use the dualchamber devices in “active or young patients,” Lamas said.

Dual-chamber systems cost about $5,000 - $2,000 more than single pacemakers - but the less-expensive one lasts longer, Lamas noted.

The study found that after two years, mortality rates of patients with the less sophisticated devices were 6.6 percent higher than those who received the other design.

xxxx “Pacemaker facts.”

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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