When Are Women Most at Risk for Asthma?

Asthma was more common in middle aged women than men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Once puberty happens, women are more likely than men to get asthma. But after puberty, women still have a lot of life to live. So at what age are they most at risk for asthma?

A recent study compared hospitalization rates due to asthma among women versus men over a 10-year period.

The researchers found that women were hospitalized for asthma more than men overall and per decade of life.

The findings showed women to be especially prone to asthma hospitalization during the fifth and sixth decades of life (ages 40 to 59), even after accounting for any health or demographical (race, insurance, etc.) factors that may have affected the high rate of asthma hospitalizations.

The authors of this study suggested that efforts to better control asthma should be especially focused on middle-aged women.

"See your doctor regularly for lung check ups."

This study was conducted by Robert Yao-wen Lin, MD, from the Department of Medicine at the New York Downtown Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College, and colleagues.

These researchers used the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the years 2000 to 2010 to determine how many hospitalizations had been due to asthma. The NIS provides information on annual hospitalizations such as location of hospital, patient diagnosis, insurance status, total charges, length of stay and patient demographics (age, race, sex, etc.)

US Census population data was used to determine the rates of asthma hospitalization per decade of life for the third through eighth decades (ages 20 to 79.) These numbers were then added up to get a total number of asthma hospitalizations in the third to eighth decades of life during the years 2000 to 2010.

The total number of asthma hospitalizations in years 2000 and 2010 was 3,063,045; women represented 2,233,849 of these hospitalizations.

The average age of asthma hospitalization for both men and women was 54.5 years.

The findings showed that more women were hospitalized for asthma than men for every year and each decade of life. The hospitalization rate ratio of women to men was the highest during the fifth and sixth decades of life (ages 40 to 59).

The authors reported that the ratio of hospitalization rates ranged from 2.62 to 3.07 women for every one man during the fifth decade of life and 2.57 to 3.12 women for every one man in the sixth decade of life.

In comparison, the ratio of hospitalization rates of women to men only ranged from 1.8 to 2.35 women for every one man in the third decade of life and 1.89 to 2.01 women for every one man in the eighth decade of life.

The researchers then adjusted their findings for the possibility of repeat hospital admissions by the same person over the study periods, as well as for potential factors that may contribute to asthma severity and/or access to regular health care, including tobacco use, race, obesity, diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), discharge year and use of Medicaid or self-pay.

The adjusted findings showed that the hospitalization rate and ratios for the fifth and sixth decades of life among women did not change after these adjustments.

The authors concluded that women were more likely than men to be hospitalized for asthma in the fifth and sixth decade of their life, independent of any outside factors.

The authors suggested that age and sex are likely two factors that largely affect asthma prevalence and severity.

One limitation of this study was that the researchers could not definitely determine repeat hospital admissions for some patients, so the number of hospitalized asthma patients per year could have been overestimated.

This study was published in the September edition of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Review Date: 
September 6, 2013
Last Updated:
September 8, 2013