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Circulation. 1996 Mar 15;93(6):1170-6.

Sex differences in cardiac arrest survivors.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Important sex differences in the epidemiology of sudden death and in the results of electrophysiological testing in survivors of cardiac arrest have been identified. These differences are currently poorly understood.


Three hundred fifty-five consecutive survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (84 women and 271 men) referred for electrophysiologically guided therapy were analyzed retrospectively for sex differences in underlying pathology and predictors of outcome. Women were significantly less likely to have underlying coronary artery disease than men (45% versus 80%) and more likely to have other forms of heart disease or structurally normal hearts (P<.0001). The mean left ventricular ejection fraction was higher in women (0.46+/-0.18 versus 0.41+/-0.18, P<.05), and women were more likely to have no inducible arrhythmia at baseline electrophysiological testing (46% versus 27%, P=.002), although when the patients were stratified by coronary artery disease status, these sex differences were no longer present. The independent predictors of outcome differed between men and women. In men, a left ventricular ejection fraction of <0.40 was the most powerful independent predictor of total (relative risk, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.6 to 5.0; P<.0001) and cardiac (relative risk, 6.3; 95% CI, 2.9 to 13.5; P<.0001) mortality. In contrast, the presence of coronary artery disease was the only independent predictor of total (relative risk, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.5 to 13.4; P=.003) and cardiac (relative risk, 4.4; 95% CI, 1.2 to 15.6; P=.012) mortality in women.


Females survivors of cardiac arrest are less likely to have underlying coronary artery disease. The predictors of total and cardiac mortality differ between male and female survivors. Coronary artery disease status is the most important predictor in women, and impaired left ventricular function is the most important predictor in men.

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