Determining if Gender Affects Recovery After Bypass Surgery
Viola Vaccarino, M.D., Ph.D.,Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health
More than 80,000 women undergo coronary artery bypass surgery in the United States each year. However, possible gender differences in the risks and benefits of a coronary artery bypass are not well known. In this investigation, the first study to target gender differences in bypass recovery, Dr. Vaccarino found that women experience significantly worse outcomes than men and are almost twice as likely to require re-hospitalization. Prior to this investigation, women who underwent heart bypass surgery were provided recovery data obtained from studies either exclusively on men, or from studies in which few women were included and data were pooled into a single group.
Highlighted Study Findings
Gender differences in the risks and benefits of a coronary artery bypass graft were previously unknown. This study explored differences in recovery from heart bypass surgery in 1,000 women and men. The study showed that women fared significantly worse than men following heart bypass surgery. When compared to the men, the women experienced more difficult recovery after leaving the hospital. At two months and then when followed up at six months, women reported more physical problems, lower levels of physical functioning and more depressive symptoms, and were almost twice as likely as men to be readmitted to the hospital. These findings were the first to show these gender differences, thus providing the necessary groundwork for studying why these differences exist and the importance of developing gender-specific interventions that can improve the health of women after heart bypass surgery.
Pilot Project Study was funded in 1998, Dr. Vaccarino is now at Emory University, GA