How medication affects women differently

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When it comes to disease there is a difference between men and women. Consider this: 78 percent with all those who have Alzheimer's Disease are women.

Arthritis and lupus affect just 8 percent of the population, but 78 percent of these cases are women and researchers are taking notice.

"Women are not little men," says Dr Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber. "We have to be looked at in a special way."

Dr Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber studies the differences in men and women when it comes to health. The sleep medicine Ambien, for instance, metabolizes much more slowly in women than men. And some heart rhythm medications can be dangerous in women.

"We know that in some women, actually when you are using those medications to slow or regulate the heart beat, it actually does the opposite for them."

Even aspirin has different effects in women and men. When it comes to preventing a first heart attack in men, aspirin works fairly well. For women who haven't had a heart attack, aspirin can be a problem.

"Women had more increases of GI bleeding into the head and stomach. So it's not recommended as a routine prevention."

That's why Dr Rohr-Kirchgraber advocates medical research take gender differences into consideration. It makes economic sense as well, when you consider 80 percent of drugs removed from the market, are due to side effects in women.

"Physicians have realized that there's more to women than the bikini area. We have hearts and brains and all of that works differently."

Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber is a physician with the IU School of Medicine.

American Senior Communities.

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