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Potentially worse outcomes when hospitalized for asthma if obese?

Published online: February 15, 2018

Asthma and obesity are major health problems. Previous studies have linked obesity to poor asthma control and frequent exacerbations. However, little is known about the relationship between obesity and acute severity, such as requiring mechanical support for breathing and length of hospitalization in patients hospitalized for asthma exacerbation.

In a recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Luthe and colleagues investigated the associations between obesity and acute severity in adults hospitalized for asthma exacerbations. Acute severity included the use of mechanical support for breathing and length of hospitalization. The authors analyzed 72,086 adult patients from geographically-diverse US states using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) State Inpatient Databases (SIDs).
The authors found that, among patients hospitalized for asthma exacerbations, 24% were obese. Those who were obese were almost twice as likely to require mechanical support for breathing and more likely to be hospitalized for three days or longer compared to non-obese patients.

Our findings should stimulate additional research into the mechanisms underlying the observed obesity-acute severity link to develop therapeutic interventions in this high-risk population. In addition, our observations underscore the importance of continued public health campaigns against obesity, which might reduce asthma-related healthcare use.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.