Sex differences in early dyspnea relief between men and women hospitalized for acute heart failure: Insights from the RELAX-AHF study

Sven Meyer, John R. Teerlink, Marco Metra, Piotr Ponikowski, Gad Cotter, Beth A. Davison, G. Michael Felker, Gerasimos Filippatos, Barry H. Greenberg, Tsushung A. Hua, Thomas Severin, Min Qian, Adriaan A. Voors*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Women with heart failure are typically older, and more often have hypertension and a preserved left ventricular ejection fraction as compared with men. We sought to analyze if these sex differences influence the course and outcome of acute heart failure.

We analyzed sex differences in acute heart failure in 1161 patients enrolled in the RELAX-AHF study. The pre-specified study endpoints were used. At baseline, women (436/1161 patients) were older, had a higher left ventricular ejection fraction, a higher rate of hypertension, and were treated differently from men. Early dyspnea improvement (moderate or marked dyspnea improvement measured by Likert scale during the first 24 h) was greater in women. However, dyspnea improvement over the first 5 days (change from baseline in the visual analog scale area under the curve (VAS AUC) to day 5) was similar between men and women. Women reported greater improvements in general wellbeing by Likert, but no such benefits were evident with the VAS score. Multi-variable predictors of moderate or marked dyspnea improvement were female sex (p = 0.0011), lower age (p = 0.0026) and lower diuretic dose (p = 0.0067). The additional efficacy endpoints of RELAX-AHF were similar between men and women and serelaxin was equally effective in men and women.

Women exhibit better earlier dyspnea relief and improvement in general wellbeing compared with men, even adjusted for age and left ventricular ejection fraction. However, in-hospital and post-discharge clinical outcomes were similar between men and women.

This trial is registered at, NCT00520806.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-292
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Research in Cardiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017


  • Serelaxin
  • Acute heart failure
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Dyspnea

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