Obesity and adult-onset asthma – a 12 year prognosis

23 May Obesity and adult-onset asthma – a 12 year prognosis

In Australia it is estimated that 2 in 3 individuals over the age of 18 are overweight (36%) or obese (31%)1. An individual is classified as overweight when their BMI is greater than 25kg/m2 but less than 29.99kg/m2, and as obese when greater than 30kg/m2. Asthma, on the other hand, affects 10% of the Australian population2. Most cases of asthma occur during childhood or early adolescence, however a recent study by Ilmarinen et al (2021) demonstrated the effects of obesity on adult-onset asthma prognosis3.

During their study, 203 individuals diagnosed with adult-onset asthma were identified as either normal, overweight, or obese and were monitored for 12 years post-diagnosis. During the 12-year follow-up it was observed that obese patients reported to use oral corticosteroids [OCS] (e.g., prednisone) more frequently than non-obese patients (46% vs 23%, respectively), were dispensed OCS more frequently (82% vs 57%, respectively) and at higher doses. Additionally, obese patients were found to be hospitalised more often for respiratory-related illnesses compared to non-obese patients (39% vs 17%, respectively).

Overall, it is widely identified that obesity may cause or exacerbate asthma during childhood, and especially during adulthood. The study by Ilmarinen et al (2021) managed to evaluate the 12-year implications of obesity on prognosis of adult-onset asthma. Nevertheless, obesity is known to be a risk factor in developing a myriad of other health conditions including hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnoea and ischaemic heart disease. Therefore, it is important in clinically managing both conditions simultaneously in preventing further exacerbations and deteriorations.

The study can be accessed via: https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/57/4/2001209

1Overweight and Obesity. (2021). How common is overweight and obesity? Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/overweight-and-obesity accessed on 26/04/2021.

2Burdon, B. (2015). Adult-onset asthma. Thorax, 44(8) 554-7. Retrieved from: https://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/AFP/2015/August/August_Focus_Burdon.pdf

3Ilmarinen, P., Pardo, A., Tuomisto, L., Vahatalo, I., Niemela, O., Mieminen, P., & Kankaanranta, H. (2021). Long-term prognosis of new adult-onset asthma in obese patients. European Respiratory Journal, 57. Doi: 10.1183/13993003.01209-2020