Obesity Increases Risk of Near Fatal Asthma Events

By Tamara Thomas - April 28, 2023

People with asthma who are obese are more likely to experience near-fatal asthma events and need longer hospital stays than those who are not obese, according to findings presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Meeting.

Karl Mueller, MD, PhD, a resident at the Mayo Clinic College of Science and Medicine in Florida, and colleagues wanted to find out if obesity increases the risk of fatal or near-fatal asthma events in patients who experience worsening asthma symptoms. They defined a near-fatal event as an asthma exacerbation that resulted in a tracheostomy (surgical opening in the windpipe), cardiac arrest, and/or respiratory arrest.

For their review, Dr. Muller and colleagues examined the National Inpatient Sample data on 677,591 patients aged 5 years and older (mean age, 47 years) who had an asthma exacerbation between 2005 and 2014. Of the participants, 66% were women and 52% were White.

Overall, 125,095 patients had obesity, 937 had experienced near-fatal asthma events, and 2538 died.

The researchers found that patients who were obese had longer hospital stays (about 4.2 days compared with 3.5 days), higher total treatment costs ($24,550 compared with $18,973), and a higher risk of near-fatal asthma events (0.2% compared with 0.1%), compared with patients who were not obese.

“It’s known that for patients who are obese and have cardiac risks, [physicians] recommend they decrease their weight, or for patients who have diabetes and are overweight,” Dr. Mueller said. “Now they should start thinking about asthma as one of those conditions as well.”

According to Dr. Mueller, future research must understand the underlying causes of worse asthma exacerbations in patients with obesity.

Source: Healio

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