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Obesity worsens impact of asthma
Date:4/30/2008

Obesity can worsen the impact of asthma and may also mask its severity in standard tests, according to researchers in New Zealand, who studied lung function in asthmatic women with a range of body mass indexes (BMIs).

This is the first prospective study to reveal a significant comparative difference in how the airways and lungs respond to a simulated asthma attack in obese and non-obese individuals.

The research is reported in the first issue for May of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society. It establishes a direct link between obesity and the development of a phenomenon known as dynamic hyperinflationwhen air breathed into the lungs cannot be exhaled. This often occurs with acute asthma, but is more frequent in obese individuals.

We have demonstrated significant differences in the changes in respiratory function that occur with asthmatic bronchoconstriction in relation to obesity, said principal investigator, D. Robin Taylor, M.D., of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

The researchers recruited 30 asthmatic women and divided them into three groups by BMI: normal weight, overweight and obese. Each woman breathed nebulized methacholine to artificially induce an asthma-like attack, and was then assessed for changes in lung function on several measures, including how much air remained in her lungs after exhalation (functional residual capacity, or FRC) and how much air she could breathe in on her next breath (inspiratory capacity, or IC).

After the methacholine challenge, the amount of bronchoconstriction was identical for each of the three groups, but the changes in FRC and IC were greatest in the obese group. This indicated to us that greater dynamic hyperinflation was occurring among obese individuals, said Dr. Taylor.

With increasing BMI, FRC was higher, whereas IC was significantly decreased. This means that among women with greater B
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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