Staphylococcus aureus, the risk of death is greater for women

Staphylococcus aureus, the risk of death is greater for women

Women are at an 18% higher risk than men of dying from blood-borne Staphylococcus aureus infection (S. aureus). She reveals it a wide meta-analysis published on Jamawith which 89 previously published studies and, globally, more than 132 thousand patients were taken into consideration, of which approximately 50 thousand were women.

S. aureus: identikit

Staphylococci are bacteria that we live with every day: they are in fact commonly present on the skin, on the mucous membranes of the nose and throat and in the intestine. In some cases, these bacteria can penetrate the tissues through cuts, abrasions, or due to the presence of foreign bodies such as prostheses, catheters or other medical devices, giving rise to more or less serious infections. Even the ingestion of food contaminated by staphylococci, and in particular by S. aureus, can lead to food poisoning.

Skin infections can manifest themselves with boils, abscesses, styes. Deeper infections can instead cause pneumonia, arthritis, endocarditis, inflammation of the lymphatic vessels. As with any infectious agent, if staphylococci reach the blood they can cause so-called septicemia, which is a potentially lethal generalized infection. S. aureus, in particular, is one of the most feared staphylococci, as it is often resistant to many types of antibiotics, and can therefore cause infections that are difficult to treat.

I study

The authors of the recent meta-analysis wondered whether S. aureus infection is more dangerous for one of the two sexes. As anticipated, a total of 132,582 patients were included – 62% male and 38% female. All selected studies included at least 200 patients and reported 90-day mortality following S. aureus bloodstream infection. However, studies that included patients with multiple infections, or those focused on sub-groups affected by particular pathologies or in certain clinical conditions (for example: tumors, need for dialysis, in intensive care) were excluded.

Attention to gender

The reason for the higher mortality observed for women is currently unclear, and further studies will be necessary to try to understand the mechanism underlying this gender difference. The authors themselves highlight some limitations of the meta-analysis. For example, in most of the studies examined, the difference in mortality between the sexes was not the primary outcome of interest. That is, these studies were not designed to investigate this specific aspect. Furthermore, the authors explain, S. aureus blood infection can present in very different clinical forms and with very different severities. A fact which could not be taken into account in the meta-analysis. But, regardless of the limitations, it is still an interesting effort from the perspective of gender medicine. That is, of a medicine increasingly oriented towards understanding the influence that biological, socio-economic and cultural differences have on the state of health or illness of people.

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