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COPD More Deadly for Women

They typically don't survive as long as male patients, study finds

FRIDAY, Sept. 1, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Women on long-term oxygen therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are 54 percent more likely to die than male patients, a new study shows.

Brazilian researchers monitored 184 female and 251 male oxygen-dependent COPD patients for seven years. After accounting for factors such as age, smoking history, lung function test results, and weight, the study authors found that female patients were much more likely to die from COPD.

"The only therapeutic regimen that has been shown to improve life expectancy in these patients is oxygen therapy," researcher Dr. Maria-Christina L. Machado, of the State Public Hospital of Sao Paulo, said in a prepared statement.

"Interestingly, we found that men and women exhibited similar survival rates during the initial follow-up period. Differences in survival became more apparent only after three years of follow-up. The clinical management for COPD for both groups was similar and was based on the latest treatment guidelines," Machado said.

Smoking is the primary risk factor for COPD, which is characterized by chronic bronchitis and severe emphysema, resulting in obstructed airflow to the lungs and difficulty breathing.

Machado noted that previous research found that women smokers had a greater decrease in basic lung function tests than male smokers. This suggests that women may be more susceptible to the development of COPD.

The findings were published in the September issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about COPD.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Sept. 1, 2006
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