Women are significantly more likely than men to go to the emergency department because of asthma-related symptoms and to be admitted to the hospital, a Canadian study shows.
It’s not that women have more severe asthma, the researchers say. Rather, it seems that women perceive their asthma symptoms as worse than men do. Sex bias on the part of healthcare professionals may also factor in to the higher admission rates for an asthma attack among women.
To investigate sex differences in hospital admission rates for asthma, Dr. Akerke Baibergenova from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and colleagues reviewed the records of 31,490 asthmatics between 18 to 55 years of age who visited Ontario emergency departments during a recent 1-year period.
Women not only made up the majority of all emergency visits (62.2 percent), they also accounted for a greater percentage of hospitalizations (7.4 percent versus 4.5 percent for men), the researchers report in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
These differences could not be explained on the basis of asthma rates or severity in men and women. Even women with low asthma severity scores were still more likely to be hospitalized than men with moderate scores, Baibergenova’s team reports.
“Although more research on the mechanisms behind this phenomenon is needed, educational interventions that focus on female asthmatic patients may be an efficient way of decreasing the number of hospitalizations and thus reducing the overall financial burden of asthma on the health care system,” they conclude.
SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, May 2006.
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.