Data suggest that women are more susceptible to develop airway obstruction compared to men for the same number of cigarettes smoked.
To compare the prevalence of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and the effect of smoking on the risk of developing COPD according to gender, in a population of high-risk smokers.
In 795 smokers, spirometry was performed using the criteria of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to determine airflow obstruction. COPD prevalence was determined in smokers grouped according to the number of cigarettes smoked per year [<20 (I), 20-40 (II), 40-60 (III) and >60 pack-years (IV)] and age.
Men were older, smoked more and for a longer period. Age at smoking initiation and the number of packs smoked per day did not differ. COPD was diagnosed in 26% of the subjects (30.5% men and 22.3% women, p < 0.001) with similar degree of obstruction (forced expiratory volume in 1 s: 78% of predicted in men vs. 75% in women). COPD prevalence was lower in women in all categories irrespective of the pack-year history (I: 9 vs. 19%; II: 16 vs. 28%; III: 28 vs. 39%, and IV: 25 vs. 42%, respectively, p < 0.001). In those older than 50 years, 34% men and 17% women (p < .001) had COPD.
Using the GOLD criteria, the prevalence of COPD in smokers was higher than previous reports. In this self-selected sample of high-risk smokers having the same smoking history, prevalence was lower in women than in men, suggesting a lower susceptibility for the development of airway obstruction.
CITATION Respiration. 2006;73(3):306-10
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