BACKGROUND: Women are more often admitted to hospital for asthma than men. A study was undertaken to determine whether this is caused by gender differences in the prevalence or severity of the disease. METHODS: Admissions to hospital for asthma in 13,540 subjects were followed from 1977 to 1993. RESULTS: At baseline 315 subjects (2.3%) reported asthma, 2.2% of women and 2.5% of men. During follow up 160 subjects were admitted to hospital for asthma. After controlling for self-reported asthma and smoking, women had a higher risk of being admitted to hospital than men (relative risk 1.7, 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 2.4). This increased risk was not due to misclassification of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as asthma. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate gender-related differences in either the severity, perception, or management of asthma.
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