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Honkamäki does not report any material financial disclosures. Consult the study for the relevant financial disclosures of all other authors.
Adults with asthma had more non-respiratory illnesses and multimorbidity than adults without asthma, according to a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
Although the types of these diseases vary, their frequency increases with age at diagnosis of asthma, Jasmin Honkamanki, md, academic researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology at the University of Tampere in Tampere, Finland, and colleagues wrote.
Researchers examined 8,199 responses (mean age, 50 years; 44.9% men) to a FinEsS questionnaire sent to 16,000 individuals aged 20 to 69 years in Finland in 2016.
Respondents included 879 who reported physician-diagnosed asthma. Of the 842 respondents who reported age at diagnosis of asthma, 29.1% had an early diagnosis (age 0 to 11 years), 42.5% intermediate diagnosis (age 12 to 39 years) and 28.4% late diagnosis (age from 40 to 69 years old). Respondents with asthma had a younger median age than those without asthma (47 years vs. 50 years; P = 0.006).
The questionnaire asked about COPD, allergic rhinitis, use of asthma medications and 14 non-respiratory diseases.
Most of these diseases were more prevalent among patients with asthma, even when the researchers excluded patients with COPD.
Hypertension was the most common disease — with the highest rates observed among those without asthma (18.9%) and those with late diagnosis asthma (42.3%) — followed by obesity, with rates of 17.5% among those with early diagnosis asthma and 21.1% for intermediate diagnosis asthma.
Overall, those with intermediate and late diagnosis of asthma had significantly more GERD, depression, sleep apnea, painful conditions and obesity than those without asthma.
Likewise, those with an intermediate diagnosis of asthma had more anxiety or panic disorder, and those with a late diagnosis of asthma had more hypertension, severe cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia and diabetes than those without asthma.
A higher proportion of asthmatics had one or more non-respiratory diseases (58.7% vs. 47%; P < 0.001), with the highest number among the group with late diagnosis of asthma. Age-adjusted analyzes also found that 12.1% of those with an intermediate diagnosis of asthma and 36.2% of those with a late diagnosis of asthma had three or more non-respiratory illnesses compared with 10.4% of those without asthma (P < 0.001 for both).
In the multivariate binary logistic regression analysis adjusted for age and sex, individuals with vs. without asthma were significantly more likely to have GERD, COPD, and one or more respiratory illnesses across all diagnostic age categories.
Compared with subjects without asthma, GERD was the most overrepresented disease among patients with early diagnosis of asthma (OR = 1.93; 95% CI, 1.17-3.19), while osteoporosis was the most common disease. more overrepresented among patients with intermediate diagnosis (OR = 3.45 ; 95% CI, 2.01-5.91) and late-diagnosed asthma (OR = 2.91; 95% CI, 1.77-4 ,79).
When the researchers adjusted their regression analysis for COPD, smoking, and BMI, as well as age and gender, the association between late-diagnosed asthma and hypertension, severe cardiovascular disease, and diabetes lost its association.
Overall, adults with asthma had more non-respiratory illnesses and more multimorbidity than those without asthma, with a greater number of non-respiratory illnesses at older ages at asthma diagnosis compared to diagnoses at younger ages in adjusted analyses. .
A better understanding of comorbid conditions may lead to more holistic and personalized treatment with better asthma control, the researchers wrote, adding that studies of asthma in adults should more readily look at these comorbid conditions.