The findings were slated to be reported Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in San Francisco. Experts note that findings presented at medical meetings do not undergo the strict peer review of studies published in reputable journals.
Asthma, a chronic lung condition that can range from mild to severe, affects close to 25 million Americans ranging from newborns to elderly adults, according to the study. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing. The underlying cause is unknown but the illness can be triggered by allergies, exercise or environmental contaminants such as chemical fumes or dust. About 70 percent of asthmatics have allergies.
The new study looked at medical record of almost 2,400 subjects with asthma and a control group of 4,784 people without asthma from 1967 to 1983, matching asthmatics with non-asthmatics for gender and age.
The average age of onset for the condition was 15 years. The vast majority were white and 57 percent were male.
The study found that among asthmatics, about 138 people per 100,000 had diabetes, compared to 104 for people without asthma; the rate for coronary heart disease was close to 189 per 100, 000, versus 134 among non-asthmatics.
But one asthma specialist said that the retrospective nature of the study was "important to consider" because looking at old records is not the most effective way to get data.
"It would warrant a prospective study to find patients with asthma now and follow them to see what happens," said Dr. Linda Dahl, an ear,
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