FRIDAY, Aug. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Airway lumen sizes are smaller in women than men, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Radiology.

Surya P. Bhatt, M.D., M.S.P.H., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues examined whether structural differences in airways may underlie some of the sex differences in the prevalence and clinical outcomes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Airway disease was quantified on computed tomography (CT) images in a secondary analysis of a multicenter study of never, current, and former smokers enrolled from January 2008 to June 2011 and followed until November 2020.

The researchers found that men had thicker airway walls than women among 420 never smokers, as quantified on CT images for segmental airway wall area percentage, whereas after accounting for height and total lung capacity, airway lumen dimensions were lower in women than men. Among 9,363 ever smokers, greater segmental airway wall area percentage was seen for men, while women had a narrower segmental lumen diameter. Lower forced expiratory volume in one second-to-forced vital capacity ratio, more dyspnea, poorer respiratory quality of life, lower six-minute walk distance, and worse survival were seen in women versus men with a unit change in each of the airway metrics (higher wall or lower lumen measure).

“The differences in airway dimensions even after adjusting for height and lung size, and the greater impact of changes in airway size on clinical outcomes in women, was remarkable in that women appear to have a lower reserve against developing airway disease and COPD,” Bhatt said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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