Asthma May Not Be a Major Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19: Study

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Researchers have found that patients with asthma do not seem to be at risk from complications associated with being hospitalised with COVID-19 disease.

A new study, titled ‘Asthma in COVID-19 Hospitalizations: An Overestimated Risk Factor?’ analyzed whether asthma is a significant risk factor for developing a severe bout of COVID-19.

The findings, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, conclude, “Our findings suggest that asthma prevalence among those hospitalized with COVID-19 appears to be similar to population asthma prevalence and significantly lower than asthma prevalence among patients hospitalized for influenza. Asthma also does not appear to be an independent risk factor for intubation among hospitalized COVID-19 patients, even after adjusting for BMI and age, which are well-known risk factors for severity.”


What Was The Study?

According to a Medical Xpress report, in the study, Fernando Holguin, MD, MPH, along with other researchers, compared the prevalence of asthma among patients hospitalized for COVID-19 with that of the corresponding population's asthma prevalence. Data for the same was evaluated from 15 peer-reviewed studies.

The researchers also calculated the correlation between the asthma prevalence in the study with that of the four-year average asthma prevalence in influenza hospitalizations across the United States. Medical records of 436 COVID-19 patients admitted to the University of Colorado Hospital were also examined to evaluate whether patients having astha were more likely to be intubated than those free from the condition.

“The CDC places people with asthma at higher risk for COVID-related hospitalization. However, many international studies show low numbers of asthmatics among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. These findings challenge the assumption about asthma as a risk factor.”
Dr. Holguin, Professor, Asthma Clinical & Research Program, Pulmonary Division, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

The scientists conducted a focused review of English-language scientific literature in order to identify research reporting asthma prevalence among patients hospitalized for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. To determine the link between asthma status and intrubation, statistical analysis was performed for the data obtained from hospitalized patients of COVID-19. Patients' gender, age and body mass index (BMI) was also taken into account.


What They Found

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals with asthma are at greater risk for hospitalization and other severe complications from COVID-19.

“We found that the proportion of asthmatics among hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is relatively similar to that of each study site’s population asthma prevalence. This finding is in stark contrast to influenza, in which asthmatics make up more than 20 percent of those hospitalized in the United States.”
Authors of The Study

"Using data from our hospital, we also observed that among COVID-19 patients, those with asthma, which had a 12 percent prevalence rate, did not seem to be more likely to be intubated than non-asthmatics," added Dr. Holguin.

The scientists have theorised that the corticosteroid inhalers used by many individuals suffering from asthma make it more difficult for coronaviruses to enter their airways. These individuals may have decreased levels of expression of ACE2, a protein that binds to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. People having asthma that is related to allergies may also have lower expression of ACE2, regardless of the usage of corticosteroids.

"The contribution of ACE2 receptor expression levels to COVID-19 susceptibility is still unclear, however, it should certainly be further investigated," said Dr. Holguin.

The asthma-COVID-intubation risk relationship needs to be examined further, he added.

(With inputs from Medical Xpress)

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Topics:  Asthma   Risk Factors   Hospitalisation 

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