Scientific Sessions 2015 - photo of a distressed womanWomen experience more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and feel they have less control over their heart health in the first 100 days after a heart transplant compared to their male counterparts, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Early psychological distress after a heart transplant is linked to poor medication compliance and higher risks of infection.

To determine how men and women heart transplant patients shoulder psychological burdens, researchers studied 91 heart transplant patients (29 percent women) in the first 100 days after surgery. They found:

  • 39 percent of women, versus 15 percent of men, experienced high depressive symptoms.
  • 77 percent of women, versus 46 percent of men, experienced high levels of anxiety.
  • A scoring system indicated that women felt they had less control over their health than men.

Researchers suggest that healthcare providers monitor these symptoms early after a heart transplant, especially in women. The development of gender-specific interventions aimed at helping people through the heart transplantation transition are needed.