Background: Multiple studies of heart failure patients demonstrated significant improvement in exercise capacity, quality of life, cardiac left ventricular function, and survival from cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), but the underenrollment of women in these studies is notable. Etiological and pathophysiological differences may result in different outcomes in response to this treatment by sex. The observed disproportionate representation of women suggests that many women with heart failure either do not meet current clinical criteria to receive CRT in trials or are not properly recruited and maintained in these studies. Methods: We performed a systematic literature review through May 2014 of clinical trials and registries of CRT use that stratified outcomes by sex or reported percent women included. One-hundred eighty-three studies contained sex-specific information. Results: Ninety percent of the studies evaluated included ≤35% women. Fifty-six articles included effectiveness data that reported response with regard to specific outcome parameters. When compared with men, women exhibited more dramatic improvement in specific parameters. In the studies reporting hazard ratios for hospitalization or death, women generally had greater benefit from CRT. Conclusions: Our review confirms women are markedly underrepresented in CRT trials, and when a CRT device is implanted, women have a therapeutic response that is equivalent to or better than in men, while there is no difference in adverse events reported by sex.
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