Women More Vulnerable to Obstructive Lung Disease

A new study suggests why this might be so

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MONDAY, May 22, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to men with the same level of disease, women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fare worse in terms of the severity of the disease and in quality of life, researchers say.

The finding could help explain the higher death rate among female COPD patients, note investigators from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

COPD results from persistent obstruction of the airways caused by severe emphysema or chronic bronchitis and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

In the latest study, the researchers compared outcomes for 85 women and 95 men with the same severity of COPD.

They found that female patients were significantly younger than males with COPD. The women also had lower lung function, more trouble breathing, and reported worse quality of life.

The female patients also scored lower on the BODE index, which factors in lung function, nutritional status, symptoms, and exercise capacity in order to measure a COPD patient's disease severity and predicted survival.

Under-diagnosis, misdiagnosis and less access to health care may be among the reasons why women with COPD do worse than men with the disease, researcher Dr. Claudia Cote, an assistant professor of medicine, said in a prepared statement.

Each year since 2000, COPD has killed more women than men in the United States. In 2002, more than 61,000 women died of COPD, compared with 59,000 men.

The study was expected to be presented Monday at the American Thoracic Society's international conference, in San Diego.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about COPD.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society news release, May 22, 2006

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