Survival rates for women undergoing coronary angioplasty to clear blocked heart vessels are declining, while those for men remain fairly stable according to an American study (JAMA, 28 April 1993).
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, looked at a group of male and female patients treated with the procedure between 1979-87 and 1988-90. While in hospital death rates for men remained fairly constant between the two periods, at 2.2 per cent in the first period, and 3.1 in the second, for women there was a "significant increase" in the number of deaths, up from 2.9 per cent to 5.4 per cent.
They conclude: "In house mortality among women has increased in recent years, but their higher mortality compared with men is related more to the severity of their underlying disease rather than gender alone."
Meanwhile, an earlier report highlights the inaccuracy of angiography, the testing technique used to assess a patient for angioplasty. In the cases of three patients who died soon after unsuccessful angioplasty, the post mortem revealed that the angiography had given misleading information about the true nature of their condition.