Sex differences in the clinical presentation and management of airflow obstruction

Eur Respir J. 2006 Aug;28(2):319-22. doi: 10.1183/09031936.06.00138105.


The aim of the present study was to explore differences in the clinical expression, clinical diagnoses and management of airway diseases in a primary-care setting. Patients aged >or=35 yrs who had ever smoked were enrolled when they presented for any reason to one of eight rural primary-care practices. Respiratory symptom questionnaires and spirometry were administered. In total, 1,034 patients had acceptable and reproducible spirometry, of whom 550 (53%) were males and 484 (47%) were females. Males smoked more than females (41.2 versus 29.2 pack-yrs) respectively, and were more likely to have a pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second/forced vital capacity <0.70 at 22.4 versus 11.8%, respectively. However, more females than males reported breathlessness (51.0 versus 42.8%, respectively), a prior diagnosis compatible with airflow obstruction and taking respiratory medications (23.4 versus 14.9%, respectively). In conclusion, the current results suggest that females are more likely than males to report breathlessness and be prescribed respiratory medications independent of differences in the severity of airflow obstruction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Airway Obstruction / drug therapy
  • Airway Obstruction / epidemiology
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / drug therapy
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Spirometry / methods