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Middle Age Women Have Higher Asthma Hospitalization Rates

Update Date: Sep 03, 2013 02:50 PM EDT

Middle age women in their 40s and 50s with asthma are hospitalized more than twice as often as their male counterparts, according to a new study.

Researchers said that asthma mostly affects young boys and adult women. Previous studies revealed that up until puberty, boys tend to have higher rates of asthma than girls.

"Then, during the menopausal years, women's hospitalization rates are double those of men in the same age group. This could indicate that asthma may have distinct biological traits," lead study author Dr. Robert Yao-wen Lin said in a news release.

Researchers looked at data from the 2000 to 2010 National Impatient Sample to calculate the ratio of female to male hospitalization rates for different decades of adult life.  Researchers found that the highest rate of difference was found in the fifth and sixth decade.  They study accounted for common co-existing conditions like smoking and obesity.

"This study reinforces that asthma is a women's health issue," John Oppenheimer, MD, ACAAI Fellow and associate editor of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "There is a need for more prevention and early intervention to reduce asthma hospitalization in menopausal women and reduce healthcare costs."

In light of the latest findings, researchers recommend that women in their 40s and 50s with asthma make an appointment with their doctor.  They recommend that patients ask their doctor the following questions:

1.     Do I need any change in my medications?

2.     What are the symptoms associated with the risk of a severe asthma attack during menopause?

3.     How do I keep my asthma in check and avoid needing emergency room or hospitalized treatment?

The findings are published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

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