Menopause findings show asthma to be ‘women’s health issue’

Results from a nationwide study in the USA show that women of menopausal age have a rate of asthma hospitalization that is more than twice that of men of the same age.

The research team, from the New York Downtown Hospital, analyzed data from the National Inpatient Sample from 2000 to 2010.

They found that of 3,063,045 adult asthma hospitalizations during the study period, 2,233,849 (72.9%) were among women. However, the ratio of female to male hospitalizations varied according to age group, with a “distinct peaking” in the fifth to sixth decades of life.

For example, in the third decade of life, the ratio ranged from 1.80 to 2.35, and in the eighth decade from 1.89 to 2.01. By comparison, it ranged from 2.62 to 3.07 in the fifth decade of life and from 2.57 to 3.12 in the sixth decade.

In multivariate analysis, women in the fifth and sixth decades of life had a 1.12-fold greater odds for hospitalization. Obesity was an additional risk factor, associated with a 1.91-fold increased odds.

Together with previous results indicating a female predominance in asthma prevalence that begins around the time of puberty, the findings add to growing evidence of an important role for estrogen in the disease, say the authors, led by Robert Lin.

Interestingly, they did not observe a decrease in the rate of hospitalizations during the course of their study, a time when use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plummeted, indicating that their findings were not related to use of HRT.

“The more than 2-fold higher hospitalization rate in women from the fourth through the sixth decade of life suggests that efforts for better asthma control could be more focused on this subgroup of asthmatic adults with potential national cost savings,” the team writes in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

In a press statement, the journal’s associate editor John Oppenheimer said: "This study reinforces that asthma is a women's health issue.

“There is a need for more prevention and early intervention to reduce asthma hospitalization in menopausal women and reduce healthcare costs.”

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Kirsty Oswald

Written by

Kirsty Oswald

Kirsty has a B.Sc. in Human Sciences from University College London. After several years working as medical copywriter, she became a medical journalist and is now freelance. Kirsty also works part-time as an editor for a London-based charity. She is particularly interested in the social and cultural aspects of science.


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