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Study Finds Gender Disparity in Community-Acquired Pneumonia

Men checking into ERs sicker than women, more likely to die within a year

SUNDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Men checking into emergency departments with pneumonia are likely to be sicker than women with the same condition and have a greater risk of dying within a year, despite receiving more aggressive medical care, a new study reports.

The findings, based on research from the University of Pittsburgh, were scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference in Toronto. The study examined roughly an equal number of men and women with community-acquired pneumonia recruited in the emergency rooms of 28 U.S. hospitals.

The study found that the women, on average, had pneumonia symptoms for a longer time before going to the ER, but many had already received antibiotics before admission. Men, on the other hand, arrived at the hospital with more complications and had worse vital signs. Once hospitalized, men more often received antibiotics within eight hours and were twice as likely to be admitted to the ICU.

"The gender disparity on aggressiveness of hospital care is appropriate, given the fact that men tended to be significantly sicker than women," study lead Michael Reade said in a prepared statement. "But it is nevertheless insufficient to offset men's higher risk of death within the following year."

This, he said, suggests biology plays a role in survival. "The social factors we examined were not sufficient to explain the differences we observed," Reade said. "This leads us to suggest that there may be differences in genetic or inflammatory factors between men and women."

While that factor remains unknown, Reade suggests hospitals and family practitioners change their approach to men with pneumonia, because they run a greater risk of dying from it.

More information

The U.S. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has more about pneumococcal disease.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 18, 2008

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