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Women Fare Worse Than Men During Coronary Artery Bypass Graft

Doctor's Guide

Women who undergo coronary artery bypass graft surgery fare worse than men and are likely to be sicker when they have the surgery.

Dr. Scott Woods of Bethesda Family Practice in Cincinnati, Ohio, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,742 men and 3,582 women and compared outcomes of male and female patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

Reporting the findings at the 2001 Annual Scientific Assembly of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in Atlanta, Georgia, they found that women were significantly older than men at the time of the surgery and were more likely to have diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and previous cerebrovascular disease.

The researchers also noted that women were twice as likely to experience complications during and after surgery compared with men, and their procedures were done a lot more urgently.

According to the investigators, a larger body surface area was directly linked to larger size of coronary arteries; and larger arteries resulted in fewer deaths during surgery.

“Men are generally a lot bigger than women and because of that body surface area correlates directly with their body surface area,” Dr. Woods told Doctor’s Guide. “A very small woman with a small body surface area really has a considerable risk of death compared to the average person, and I doubt that most physicians are aware of this risk.”

He said that he was unsure why women were so often sicker and more often had diseases other than heart disease compared with men. But he advised that “physicians might want to be aware of an earlier need of (bypass) surgery among women.”

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