Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Where men and women differ

Diagnostics   Mental Health   Patient Care   Relationships

Today’s Read: 3.5 minutes

Hope that you were able to spend some of the holiday weekend resting. Today we look at the differences between men and women. Specifically, how sex affects diagnosing pulmonary embolism and how the sexes handle divorce. Plus, the genetic risk factors of preeclampsia and what gun sales mean for suicide rates.


Pulmonary embolism: Where men and women differ

Add this study to the body of research that shows how diagnosing men and women can differ. A study of 2,031 patients published in Vascular Medicine reports that men and women display acute pulmonary embolism differently but survive at the same rate.

Specifically, dyspnea appeared in women more than men, 59.8% vs 52.0% respectively, while hemoptysis presented less often in women than men, 1.9% vs 4.0% respectively. Women tended to be slightly older, but had lower rates of myocardial infarction, liver disease, smoking history, and prior DVT. In addition, women were more likely to have a normal right ventricular size on a surface echocardiogram. Despite these differences, pulmonary embolism severity was similar between women and men, and there were no sex differences in management and outcomes.

The bottom line: there are times when women experience different comorbidities and presentations than men, and pulmonary embolism seems to be one of them.

The toll of divorce

Divorce is difficult, emotionally and physically. Now, a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology examines the health impacts that can occur immediately after divorce. 

After studying divorces that weren’t preceded by separation periods, Dutch researchers found that recent divorcees’ mental and physical health was worse than the general population and that higher levels of conflict during the divorce predicted worse mental health.

While these findings aren’t surprising, some interesting trends emerged from the data. For instance, among men, earning more and being younger predicted better physical health, while having more children, having a new partner, and even having more previous divorces was associated with better mental health. Among women, earning more money, having a new partner, and having fewer previous divorces were associated with better physical health, while initiating the divorce and having a new partner predicted better mental health.

Conflict was the one factor that had the biggest influence on the divorcees. Among men and women, higher levels of divorce conflict predicted worse mental health. Finding ways to intervene and help soon-to-be divorcees may help reduce the health impacts of divorce as well as the money lost on work-place productivity, sick days, doctor visits, and other healthcare.

How genetics could determine preeclampsia risk

Preeclampsia affects up to 5% of pregnant women; now, a multi-national study pinpoints genetic risk factors for the condition. 

Specifically, findings of the InterPregGen study identified DNA variants in the ZNF831 and FTO genes as risk factors for preeclampsia. Both of these genes have previously been associated with higher blood pressure, and the FTO variant has been weakly linked with higher BMI. In addition, other blood pressure variants occurring in the MECOM, FGF5, and SH2B3 genes were associated with preeclampsia, increasing the risk of the condition by 10 to 15%.

These genetic associations fit within our current knowledge that hypertension and obesity are preeclampsia risk factors. The study also serves as a reminder of the importance of family medical history when screening pregnant patients are at high risk for preeclampsia.



The percentage of people who bought firearms during the pandemic that reported having suicidal thoughts throughout their lives. For comparison, 37% of gun owners have these thoughts, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


Life lessons from Herman Munster 1964.

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