More men than women die of COPD, study hints

Results of a study conducted in the Asia-Pacific region suggest that men with COPD are more likely to die or be hospitalized than women with COPD.

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, but it is also associated with long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution and chemical fumes.

“The global rise of COPD is particularly dramatic in Asia-Pacific where two recognized risk factors for COPD - tobacco smoke and indoor air pollution - are highly prevalent and are significant contributors to death and disease burden,” Dr. Wan C. Tan, from St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada, said in a statement.

To better understand the epidemiology of COPD in this region, Tan and colleagues analyzed data obtained from national health statistics agencies for 1991 to 2004.

They found that, in 2003, COPD death rates for men per 10,000 people ranged from 6.4 to 9.2. By contrast, for women, the rates were just 2.1 to 3.5 per 10,000 people.

COPD-related illness was also higher in men, with rates of 32.6 to 334.7 per 10,000 people, compared with rates of 21.2 to 129 per 10,000 for women.

“The growing burden of COPD in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tan concluded, “supports the need for more intensive research and analysis to raise awareness of the disease and its causes. It is also important to reinforce the importance of persistent comprehensive anti-smoking strategies in individuals.”

SOURCE: Respirology, January 2009.

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