Women are underrepresented in medical studies used to diagnose and treat lung diseases, to the point that they do not take into account how doses of certain drugs affect them, according to the Austrian Society of Pulmonology ( ÖGP).
This was warned by the general secretary of ÖGP in a press conference in which she indicated that medical research should pay more attention to sex differences.
In ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma or pulmonary hypertension, men and women show different symptoms and require different treatments, the expert highlighted.
For example, COPD is generally associated with older men who smoke, but both sexes are affected by this disease, it just manifests itself differently: “While men cough, women show tiredness and exhaustion,” noted Löffler-Ragg.
Because of this, men are diagnosed more quickly by the evidence of their symptoms.
As for pulmonary hypertension, it is more common in women but more serious in men.
Löffler-Ragg also highlighted the importance of investigating “small differences, which often have a big impact”, Because very little attention is still paid to how sex, anatomy or the psychological and social context affect health.
“How medications and their doses work in women is largely unknown,” said Löffler-Ragg.
Asthma is seen more frequently in women and often depends on hormonal phases of life, such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause, the doctor recalled, adding that “If these aspects were taken into account, a broader vision of the diseases would be obtained.”
For this reason, the ÖGP will include for the first time at its annual meeting, which takes place next week, a session on gender research and awareness.