COPD Prevalence, Diagnosis, and Mortality: Differences Between Women and Men

COPD, lung x ray
COPD, lung x ray
Women were more likely than men to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and had more frequent exacerbations.

Women were more likely than men to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and had more frequent exacerbations, according to the results of a Swedish study published in the Nature Partner JournalPrimary Care Respiratory Medicine.

The incidence of COPD, prevalence of asthma and other comorbidities, exacerbation risk, mortality rate, COPD-related prescriptions, and healthcare resource use were retrospectively analyzed from a large, real-world, retrospective cohort study conducted in Swedish patients with COPD. Differences between these outcomes and sex were compared between groups.

Among the 101,934 medical records available, 17,479 patients were diagnosed with COPD. Among those with COPD, 54.4% were women and 45.6% were men. The prevalence of asthma was higher in women (12.3% vs 9.4%), and women also had more frequent exacerbations than men; in fact, women had 12% higher risk for an earlier exacerbation vs men (P <.0001). However, the mortality rate was found to be significantly higher in men compared with women, as women lived an average of 2 years longer than men from COPD diagnosis to death.

“Despite a lower mortality rate, women had higher prevalence [of] comorbidities including asthma and a higher risk of exacerbations, leading to more utilization of COPD drugs and COPD-related healthcare resources,” the researchers wrote. “In daily clinical practice, healthcare professionals in primary care play a pivotal role and should consider all these parameters in order to properly diagnose and treat women with COPD.”

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Disclosure: This clinical trial was supported by Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Lisspers K, Larsson K, Janson C, et al. Gender differences among Swedish COPD patients: results from the ARCTIC, a real-world retrospective cohort study [published December 10, 2019]. NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. doi:10.1038/s41533-019-0157-3