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Association between age at asthma diagnosis and non-respiratory diseases

Published: October 27, 2022

Age of asthma onset is reported to be a key differentiating factor regarding important features of asthma patients, such as prognosis and treatment response. It is estimated that more than 50% of adult asthma patients suffer from non-respiratory comorbid conditions. Asthma and other chronic diseases seem to share pathogenetic mechanisms, and chronic diseases may thereby affect asthma control and confound studies assessing it. However, few previous studies have evaluated association between age of asthma onset and comorbid diseases.

In this study, which was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Honkamäki et al. studied how common non-respiratory chronic diseases differed between subjects without asthma and with physician-diagnosed asthma, categorized by age at asthma diagnosis. Totally 14 different diseases were included. The data were collected in 2016 by sending a FinEsS respiratory questionnaire to 16,000 randomly selected adults aged 20-69 years in the Seinäjoki-Vaasa and Uusimaa areas in Finland. Physician-diagnosed asthma was categorized as early (diagnosed at 0-11 years), intermediate (12-39 years), and late-diagnosed asthma (40-69 years).

In total 8199 (51.5%) of the invited subjects answered, and 842 (10.3%) reported asthma and age at asthma diagnosis. Of those, early-diagnosed asthma was reported by 245 (29.1%), intermediate-diagnosed by 358 (42.5%), and late-diagnosed by 239 (28.4%). The most common disease was hypertension in subjects without asthma (18.9%) and with late-diagnosed asthma (42.3%), and obesity in early (17.5%) and intermediate-diagnosed asthma (21.1%). The most common disease in subjects with physician-diagnosed asthma compared to those without asthma was gastro-esophageal reflux in early-diagnosed (1.8 times the risk) and osteoporosis in both intermediate-diagnosed (3.3 times the risk) and late-diagnosed asthma (2.8 times the risk). Having one or more non-respiratory diseases was reported by 3260 (47.0%) subjects without asthma and 508 (58.7%) subjects with physician-diagnosed asthma. The median number of non-respiratory diseases was 0 in early-diagnosed, 1 in intermediate-diagnosed and 2 in late-diagnosed asthma. In conclusion, subjects with asthma, especially with late-diagnosed asthma, suffered from more diseases than subjects without asthma.

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

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