A report from the University of Michigan has found that following heart bypass surgery, women have a higher susceptibility to infections than male patients. Researchers say this may help to explain women’s higher mortality rate following cardiac surgery.
Released in the most recent issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, the study included over 9,000 bypass patients age 65 or older. Following the procedure, 16 percent of women developed some kind of infection, compared to nine percent of men. This difference in infection rates accounted for 96 percent of the gender gap in post-operation fatalities.
Currently, to avoid risk of infection, guidelines include giving cardiac patients antibiotics an hour before the procedure and continuing them for at least the following day. Yet Mary A. M. Rogers, an author of the study, told Health Day that the guidelines were followed in only 55 percent of cases, saying, “It’s a problem of putting into practice these procedures on a daily basis.” Rogers further recommended elderly patients be conscientious about receiving yearly influenza vaccinations and a bacterial pneumonia vaccination every five years.
Ms. magazine’s Winter 2006 issue on newsstands now features the story, “The Beat of a Different Heart,” on the gender gap in diagnosis and treatment of cardiac disease.