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

Journal Article (Multicenter Study;Journal Article)


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.

Methods and results

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Meyer, S; Teerlink, JR; Metra, M; Ponikowski, P; Cotter, G; Davison, BA; Felker, GM; Filippatos, G; Greenberg, BH; Hua, TA; Severin, T; Qian, M; Voors, AA

Published Date

  • April 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 106 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 280 - 292

PubMed ID

  • 27838739

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5360825

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1861-0692

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1861-0684

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00392-016-1051-4


  • eng