Across the globe, women have shown consistently more favourable
lipid profiles as compared to men. Locally, as well,
the National Health Surveys have revealed the same since
While our lifestyle habits have been linked to this gender difference
in several overseas population-based studies, a more
recent study conducted by the Department of Research of
SingHealth Polyclinics has brought to light some of these lifestyle
behaviours in the local context. The study was published
in the journal, Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare.
For instance, fewer Singaporean men were found to have
attained their LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) Treatment Goals as
compared to women. This appeared to have been associated
with a greater reluctance to embark on dietary changes, unlike
women, who tended to be more weight and health-conscious.
It was also found that men dined out more regularly, which
could make it harder for them to make the necessary changes.
In the study, a higher proportion of women were homemakers,
which could place them in a better position with regard
to their food choices.
Selecting more healthy options when dining out is the way
to go, says Dr Tan Ngiap Chuan, the principal investigator of
“But we do not suggest an abstinence from the less healthy
food options. They can, instead, moderate their intake in
terms of the quantity and its frequency.”
Among the men, those of Chinese ethnicity and with lower
educational levels were found to have better LDL-C control,
as were non-smokers and non-drinkers. Both the activities of
smoking and alcohol intake are known factors that lead to a
rise in LDL-C.
“Therefore, primary care physicians should actively advise
their patients to stop smoking, and to moderate their alcohol
intake to no more than one unit per week, regardless of the
type of alcohol consumed,” said Dr Tan.
Interestingly, among women, those who perceived the lipid-lowering therapy to be expensive were less likely to
achieve their LDL-C Treatment Goal. Physicians can help to
overcome this barrier, by proactively raising the issue during
their consultations, and by helping the affected patients obtain
“It is important that physicians recognise that it will be more
challenging to manage their male patients with dyslipidaemia.
A multi-faceted team-based approach may be one option,
focusing on medication adherence and lifestyle changes,”
advised Dr Tan.
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