Knowledge of gender-differences is of increasing interest in recent years. It is well known that women and men show differences in their respiratory system. It is well known that they have different red blood cells count and haemoglobin plasma concentration. Later, other differences have been found in the ventilatory response to hypoxia and exercise and the evolution of some respiratory illnesses. The present study brings forward that during rest at sea level, the haemoglobin oxygen saturation, measured by pulse oxymetry, is slightly higher in women than in men (98.6±1.1% versus 97.9±0.9%; P=0.001). Other studies had found gender differences in the transcutaneous or tissue PaO2 that is consistent with our findings. The difference in the oxygen saturation is not related to differences in ventilation. The difference is modest and does not seem to produce great differences in the oxygen content of arterial blood, but added to the differences in the affinity of haemoglobin for oxygen or the different metabolic rate, may play a role in the course of elite competition sports, high altitude ascents or the evaluation of critically ill patients. Consequently, even if further studies are needed to know the degree, extent and clinical importance, women and men have differences in the saturation of the haemoglobin measured by pulse oxymetry.
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