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Nearly 1 in 3 Asthma Cases May Be Misdiagnosed
Date:11/17/2008

Too many patients aren't getting a key lung test, experts say,,,,

MONDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Almost one in three adults who've been told they have asthma may not have the chronic airway disease, new Canadian research claims.

The study, published in the Nov. 18 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included nearly 500 adults from eight Canadian cities. Researchers found that about 30 percent of those diagnosed with asthma had been misdiagnosed.

"When we evaluated these people with lung function tests and then took them off their medications, we couldn't find asthma in 29 percent of the non-obese and 32 percent of the obese," noted study author Dr. Shawn Aaron, head of the division of respiratory medicine at the Ottawa Health Research Institute at the University of Ottawa, Ontario.

Aaron said the original goal of the study was to see if asthma was misdiagnosed more often in obese individuals, because the prevalence of asthma is twice as high in this group. However, he said, there was no statistical difference in the rates of overdiagnosis based on body weight.

And even though the study was not designed to confirm or refute the idea that the obese are more likely to have asthma, it did support the notion that obese people truly do have a higher incidence of the disease.

For the study, the researchers randomly recruited 496 Canadian adults -- 242 obese and 254 non-obese -- from eight Canadian cities. All had been diagnosed as having asthma by physicians.

The study participants underwent lung function testing, and if they performed well on the lung function test, were given an airway "challenge" test. People with asthma aren't expected to do well on this test.

Those that passed the airway challenge were gradually tapered off their asthma medications. Aaron was quick to point out that this is not something anyone should attempt on their own; it should
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