Weight gain may make asthma control more difficult
Weight gain is associated with an increased risk of poorly controlled asthma, according to findings presented in Grapevine, Texas, at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
In a 3-year study, the researchers observed 2,396 patients with severe or difficult-to-treat asthma. Those who gained 5 pounds or more between the beginning of the study and 1 year reported poorer asthma control and worse quality of life than patients who maintained their initial weight or lost 5 or more pounds during the same period, researchers reported.
“Our findings are consistent with reports that increases in body mass index are associated with decreased asthma control and asthma-related quality of life,” commented Dr. Tmirah Haselkorn, of EpiMetrix, Inc., of South San Francisco. “Strategies to prevent weight gain could help patients achieve better asthma control and improve asthma-related quality of life.”
After considering the potential influence of other known asthma risk factors, the initial body mass index, co-existing illness, duration and severity of asthma, lung function and oral steroid use, the odds of having poorly controlled asthma after 12 months were increased by 22 percent in patients who gained weight during the first year compared to patients who kept a steady weight.
Patients who gained weight were also 31 percent more likely to have at least one steroid burst in the previous 3 months and a worse quality of life during the next 12 months. A steroid burst is when an asthma patient requires a short-term increase in steroid pills or syrups to reduce the severity of an asthma attack and avoid an emergency room visit or hospitalization. The burst may last 2 days to several weeks.
“It is not clear if increased body weight or body mass index precedes asthma onset or results from physical and physiological restrictions imposed by asthma,” Haselkorn noted.
“The finding that patients who gained 5 pounds or more had more asthma control problems, lower quality of life, and more steroid bursts suggests that weight gain affected those outcomes rather than vice versa,” the researcher added.
Haselkorn cautioned, however, that the relationship between body weight and asthma is complex, with asthma control determined by the interaction of many demographic and clinical variables.
“Future studies should more closely examine variables that contribute to poor asthma control and determine the threshold at which body weight affects asthma severity and control,” Haselkorn said.
A better understanding of the mechanisms by which body weight influences asthma control and other asthma-related health outcomes will enable treatment specialists to formulate treatment programs that include a weight management component,” the researcher concluded.
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