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What is asthma?
 
Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects the lungs and the quality of life for millions of Americans.  Asthma affects people of all ages, but frequently begins in childhood. More than 22 million Americans are known to have asthma; 6 million people diagnosed with asthma are children.
 
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects the airways, or tubes, that carry air in and out of your lungs.  Particularly, asthma affects the inside walls of your airways and they become sore and swollen. As the airways swell, they may react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When your airways react, they get narrow and your lungs get less air causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and night or early morning coughing.
 
For more about asthma, read here.
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Fruits and Vegetables may Help Asthma Sufferers

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may help reduce asthma symptoms, according to a recent study. But if you're one of the 25 million Americans with the breathing disorder, the take-away message is not that you should rely solely on dietary improvements.

"One of the dangers here is that people pick up this headline and say, well, I don't need to take my medicine anymore, I can just eat fruits and vegetables," cautions Dr. Marc Riedl, UCLA associate clinical professor of immunology and allergy. "It may help; I'm not saying there's no effect. There probably is, based on this paper, but it's not a substitute for many people who need to take some sort of anti-inflammatory medication for their asthma."

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Australian study divided adults into two groups. One ate a low-antioxidant diet, while the other ate a high-antioxidant diet, including five servings of vegetables and two fruit portions each day for two weeks. At the end of the testing period, people in the high-antioxidant group had better lung function and less breathing problems than those in the other group.

The researchers concluded: "Improvements were evident only after increased fruit and vegetable intake, which suggests that whole-food interventions are most effective."

For more information and to view the rest of the article, visit here.

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Hormone may play a role in asthma-obesity link

Based on studies of mice, experts at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City are suggesting that leptin, a hormone involved in energy metabolism, appetite, fertility, and building bone mass, may play a key role in the link between asthma and obesity — and possibly lead to development of a leptin-based treatment for weight-related asthma.

The researchers observed that some patients who are anorexic or obese also have asthma, which makes sense because both abnormally low or high body weight and fat mass can result in narrowing of the airways and diminished lung function.

For the complete article, view here.

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Asthma linked to pulmonary embolism risk

 

Patients with asthma have an increased risk for pulmonary embolism, show Dutch findings.

In particular, patients with a severe case of the disease are most at risk.

"This is the first time a link has been found between asthma and pulmonary embolism and we believe these results have important clinical implications," said Christof Majoor (Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) in a press statement.

The authors compared 365 patients with mild-moderate asthma and 283 patients with severe asthma against age-matched controls from a previously published Norwegian population study.

During 31,889 person-years of follow up, 16 patients with asthma developed deep vein thrombosis, and 19 patients had a pulmonary embolism.

The rate of pulmonary embolism among patients with severe asthma was nine times greater than in the general population (0.93 vs 0.18 per 1000 person-years). The rate among patients with mild-moderate asthma was four times greater than in the general population, although this did not reach statistical significance (0.33 vs 0.18 per 1000 person-years).

Multivariate analyses showed that severe asthma was associated with a 3.33-fold increased risk for pulmonary embolism versus no asthma, and also showed that oral corticosteroid use was associated with a 2.82-fold increased risk .

By contrast, the risk for deep vein thrombosis was not associated with the presence of asthma.

Asthma has been associated with procoagulant and antifibrinolytic activity in the airways, but this is the first study to examine an association with pulmonary embolism, explain the authors in the European Respiratory Journal.

Inactivity due to severe symptoms and the use of corticosteroids may also play a role, they say.

For more information and for the complete article, visit here.

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Late pregnancy pollen exposure increases risk of early asthma

 

A woman's exposure to high pollen levels in late pregnancy increases the risk of earlyasthma in the child, according to a group of researchers at Sweden's Ume- University in a recent study.

A number of studies have previously shown that there is an association with being born during a pollen season and an increased risk of allergies. Although the pollen season is a regular annual event, there are large variations between years in pollen levels. Few studies have closely examined the significance of actual pollen content in different time periods before and after birth, but now, researchers at the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Ume- University have conducted such a study involving 110,000 pregnancies in the Stockholm area.

For the entire article, you can read here.

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Spirometry for adults with a diagnosis of asthma or COPD

 

Abstract (provisional)
Background
Objective measurement of airflow obstruction by spirometry is an essential part of the diagnosis of asthma or COPD. During exacerbations, the feasibility and utility of spirometry to confirm the diagnosis of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are unclear. Addressing these gaps in knowledge may help define the need for confirmatory testing in clinical care and quality improvement efforts. This study was designed to determine the feasibility of spirometry and to determine its utility to confirm the diagnosis in patients hospitalized with a physician diagnosis of asthma or COPD exacerbation.
 
Methods
Multi-center study of four academic healthcare institutions. Spirometry was performed in 113 adults admitted to general medicine wards with a physician diagnosis of asthma or COPD exacerbation. Two board-certified pulmonologists evaluated the spirometry tracings to determine the proportion of patients able to produce adequate quality spirometry data. Findings were interpreted to evaluate the utility of spirometry to confirm the presence of obstructive lung disease, according to the 2005 European Respiratory Society/American Thoracic Society recommendations.
 
For more on this, read the article here.
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Urban pollution contribute to children's asthma

 

California's effort to reverse urban sprawl and encourage denser development may mean more children will live closer to polluted high-traffic areas. A new study estimates that near-road air pollution is at least partially responsible for 8 percent of childhood asthma cases in Los Angeles County. The authors reported that their findings "suggest that there are large and previously unappreciated public health consequences of air pollution" in metropolitan areas and that "compact urban development strategies should be coupled with policies to reduce near-roadway pollution exposure."
 
Read more about the connection between pollution and the asthma connection here.
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Advair: How Safe is it?

 

The 2001 product launch of the asthma drug Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol) was a lavish, Las Vegas affair.

Using images of a slot machine to illustrate their message, top GlaxoSmithKline executives took the stage in front of thousands of assembled sales reps. "There are people in this room who are going to make an ungodly sum of money selling Advair," one executive told the group.

He was right.

The Serious Business of Asthma

Millions of people with asthma, including many children, have gone on the drug and, according to data from IMS, Advair sales have exceeded $4 billion every year since 2007.

Yet even as profits mounted evidence began to emerge from independent medical studies and court records suggesting that the drug can be dangerous, especially to children and that overuse of the drug exacerbated the danger.

Asthma is not a benign condition.

To continue reading about this condition, visit the article here on Medpage.

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