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Study finds clue to why men had worse outcomes during Covid pandemic

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Men with Covid-19 infection are more likely to experience an increase in heart rate and breathing rate, as well as a high skin temperature, than women, according to a study that used data from wearable devices.

Men’s breathing rate and heart rate were also found to be significantly higher levels during the recovery period as compared to women.

The study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, showed that men and women experience different physiological responses to Covid infections, and it may explain why mortality among men was higher during the pandemic.

“The sex-specific biological responses to Covid infection may be linked to the higher mortality and hospitalisation rates observed in male Covid-19 patients,” said researchers from the University of Basel, Switzerland.

“A better understanding of sex-specific trajectories in these physiological changes could support the early detection and treatment of Covid-19,” they added.

In the study, the team collected data on 82 people with the Ava wearable medical device. More than 1.5 million hours of physiological data were recorded and included in the new analysis during the study period, spanning 2020 and 2021.

Further, the team also tested BMI, age, hypertension, and alcohol and drug use, and found no impact of these variables on the associations between sex and physiology during infection.

However, they could not account for hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle among female participants.

The researchers called for more work to fully understand the biological underpinning of these sex differences.