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Researchers discuss COPD in women and call for more evidence

More evidence is needed to understand Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in women, a recent review explains.

COPD is now as common in women as it is in men. However, many studies have not looked at the differences between men and women with COPD. This means we may not fully understand COPD in women and how best to treat it.         

For example, women with COPD can have different symptoms compared to men. Women are more likely to feel tired or depressed and have shortness of breath. This can mean that the disease is harder to diagnose in women, because doctors may be less able to recognise COPD, and women may be less likely to seek help for these symptoms. Several studies also report that COPD affects quality of life to a greater extent in women.          

The authors also suggest that COPD might have different causes in women. For example, women in developing countries are more likely to breathe indoor smoke from cooking, which can contribute to COPD. Other studies suggest that smoking has a bigger impact on women than men. Even when women smoke less, they seem to develop COPD at an earlier age, and their disease progresses faster. The reason for this is not clear, although there are many theories.           

Increasing our understanding of the differences between men and women who have COPD could lead to more effective treatments and reduced symptoms for everyone living with this condition.               

Read the journal article in full.                                                  

Read our factsheet on living well with COPD.                      

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