Women are more likely to require urgent asthma care despite frequent use of inhaled corticosteroids and better knowledge of the disease, says U of T research.
A study appearing in the March issue of the Journal of Asthma reports that in a 2001 survey of Canadians with doctor-diagnosed asthma, men achieved a greater degree of asthma control despite using less medication and having less information about the condition. “We have long suspected that gender plays a role in asthma and these findings suggest a link,” says the study’s lead author, Professor Anna Day of U of T’s Department of Medicine and Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre.Surveyors interviewed a total of 801 adults over the phone and analysed data from a subgroup of 20- to 50 year-old patients with asthma. They found that there were significant gender differences; women were more likely to use an inhaled corticosteroid in the treatment of their asthma, more knowledgeable about their medications and asthma and more satisfied with their physician’s care. But the women were also more likely to require urgent asthma care.The study brings up a number of interesting questions on how gender affects this important disease, according to Day. The Asthma Society of Canada estimates that every year, 500 Canadians will die from the disease – most of the deaths being preventable through proper management and education. “Women’s biology, including their airway size and hormones, likely accounts for how women respond to common therapies to a greater extent than we have previously realized,” she says. “It’s important that we examine the role of gender and whether or not medication and management of asthma should be tailored differently for women and men.”(Source: University of Toronto: March 2006.)