Women may be at twice the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than men, according to results from a new study by researchers at Lund University in Sweden. Their findings are published in the European Respiratory Journal

It has been unclear whether gender differences affected the risk of developing COPD. Researchers explained it was partly due to insufficient studies looking at who is at risk for COPD as well as changes in how COPD is diagnosed. For this study, the team took into consideration patients’ gender and age before interpreting spirometry results leading to a COPD diagnosis. 

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The study followed 2,300 people aged 65–100 years to study the incidence and significance of airflow limitation in a population-based geriatric sample using both an age-dependent predicted lower limit of normal (LLN) value and a fixed-ratio spirometric criterion. A total of 984 people completed the 6-year follow-up visit.  

Previous data had suggested women’s airways could be more sensitive than men’s. An increased risk of developing COPD was clearly seen for women compared to the risk for men even after adjusting for other risk factors such as smoking and age. The incidence of airflow limitation per 1,000 person-years was 28.2 using a fixed ratio and 11.7 with LLN. In addition, LLN airflow limitation was tied to an increased 5- year mortality. 

For more information visit erj.ersjournals.com.