Men at higher risk of early Covid death: Lancet

In 2021, males faced a higher disease burden than females.
Men at higher risk of early Covid death: Lancet

NEW DELHI: Men are at a higher risk of premature death than women, however, females who live longer lives tend to spend more of their lifetime in poor health, according to a Lancet report.

The study published in Lancet Public Health said that while men face a higher chance of dying early from Covid-19, heart disease, respiratory, liver diseases and road accidents, women tend to experience more non-fatal illnesses such as mental health conditions, low back pain, dementia, headaches and HIV/AIDS.

In 2021, males faced a higher disease burden than females.

Covid-19 disproportionately affected men in all regions. The gap was widest in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. It found that men lost 45 per cent more years of life to Covid-19 compared to women. This disease was the leading cause of health loss in 2021.

Ischaemic heart disease had the second largest absolute difference in health loss between males and females, with the former experiencing 45 per cent more health loss from heart disease compared to the latter. One of the biggest health problems faced by females was low back pain, particularly in regions such as South Asia and parts of Europe and Asia. These differences start in teenage years and persist through life, with women facing higher levels of illness and disability overall due to their longer life expectancy.

Mental health conditions, especially depressive disorders, also take a heavier toll on women, with the widest gaps observed in high-income countries and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The notable health differences between females and males point to an urgent need for policies to be based on sex-specific and age-specific data, the report said. It is also important to continue promoting gender-sensitive research, and ultimately, implement interventions that not only reduce the burden of disease but also achieve greater health equity, it added.

“Historically, the focus on women’s health has been largely focused on sexual and reproductive concerns, which, although crucial, do not encompass the full spectrum of health issues affecting females throughout the life course,” the authors said.

The study was based on Global Burden of Disease Study 2021 to compare disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) rates for females and males for the 20 leading causes of disease burden for individuals older than 10 years at the global level and across seven world regions, between 1990 and 2021 Luisa Sorio Flor, the main author of the study, noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of understanding how sex differences impact health outcomes.

‘Need for policies’

Mental health conditions take a heavier toll on women, with the widest gaps observed in high-income countries. The health differences between females and males point to an urgent need for policies to be based on sex-specific and age-specific data, it said. It is also important to continue promoting gender-sensitive research, and implement interventions that not only reduce the burden of disease but also achieve greater health equity.

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