More than 40 percent of women with asthma may develop COPD, but risk may be reduced

August 10, 2018, American Thoracic Society
More than 4 in 10 women with asthma may go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Credit: ATS

More than 4 in 10 women with asthma may go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study conducted in Ontario, Canada, and published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

In "Asthma and COPD Overlap in Women: Incidence and Risk Factors," Teresa To, Ph.D., and coauthors report that of the 4,051 with included in their study, 1,701, or 42 percent, developed COPD. On average, the women were followed for about 14 years after being diagnosed with asthma.

The researchers examined for developing asthma and COPD overlap syndrome, known as ACOS. Those who develop ACOS experience increased exacerbations and hospitalizations and have a lower quality of life, compared to those who have asthma or COPD alone.

"Previous studies have found an alarming rise in ACOS in women in recent years and that the mortality rate from ACOS was higher in women than men," said Dr. To, a professor in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Toronto in Canada. "We urgently need to identify and quantify risk factors associated with ACOS in women to improve their health and save lives."

The authors report that individual risk factors played a more significant role in the development of ACOS than exposure to fine particulate matter, a major air pollutant that because of its microscopic size penetrates deep into the lungs.

Women who had a more than five-pack-year smoking history, meaning they had smoked more than the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for five years, were much more likely to develop ACOS than those who smoked fewer cigarettes or never smoked.

However, ACOS did not affect only those who smoke: 38 percent of the women who developed ACOS in the study had never smoked.

In addition to smoking, the study identified obesity, rural residence, lower education levels and unemployment as significant risk factors for ACOS. The authors speculate that these factors indicative of low socioeconomic status may result in suboptimal access to care, under-treatment of asthma and poor compliance to medications, all of which lead to more frequent asthma attacks. These attacks in turn may lead to airway remodeling that increases the chances of developing ACOS.

The researchers noted that they lacked the data to investigate this association directly. Study limitations also include not having information about exposure to second-hand smoke and exposure to air pollution over the entire time the women were followed.

The authors wrote that they were encouraged by the fact that most of the risk factors identified in their study were modifiable.

"The adverse impact of smoking and obesity on health may be even worse in those who are already living with asthma or COPD," said Dr. To, who is also senior scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences, at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). "Identifying modifiable risk factors in the progression from asthma to COPD is an essential first step in developing prevention strategies that lead to a healthy, active lifestyle."

Explore further: Exploring 'clinical conundrum' of asthma-COPD overlap in nonsmokers with chronic asthma

More information: www.thoracic.org/about/newsroo … s/women-and-acos.pdf

Related Stories

Exploring 'clinical conundrum' of asthma-COPD overlap in nonsmokers with chronic asthma

August 5, 2015
Researchers may be closer to finding the mechanism responsible for loss of lung elastic recoil and airflow limitation in nonsmokers with chronic asthma. The study published today in the journal Chest 'Unraveling the Pathophysiology ...

Three-quarters of COPD cases are linked to childhood risk factors that are exacerbated in adulthood

April 6, 2018
Three-quarters of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cases have their origins in poor lung function pathways beginning in childhood. These pathways are associated with exposures in childhood, and amplified by factors ...

Ozone exposure at birth increases risk of asthma development

May 21, 2018
A long-term study of the health of Canadian children has found that exposure to ozone (O3), a common air pollutant, at birth was associated with an 82 percent increased risk of developing asthma by age three. The study, which ...

Childhood measles linked to increased risk of later lung disease

March 21, 2018
In a new Respirology study, having measles—a highly contagious respiratory infection—during early childhood was linked with an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in middle age, but only ...

Never-smoking women have high prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

December 9, 2016
A new study published by University of Toronto researchers suggests that women who have never smoked are susceptible to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and that African American women are particularly vulnerable. ...

Uncovering the hidden roles management partners play in ACOs

February 5, 2018
Despite an uncertain political climate and mixed results when it comes to achieving cost savings, the number of accountable care organizations (ACOs) in the United States is steadily increasing, with over 32 million people ...

Recommended for you

A bad influence—the interplay between tumor cells and immune cells

October 16, 2018
Research at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) yielded new insights into the environment surrounding different types of lung tumors, and described how these complex cell ecosystems may in turn ...

New immunotherapy targeting blood-clotting protein

October 15, 2018
Normally, the blood protein fibrin does not enter the brain. But in several neurological disorders, the blood-brain barrier—which keeps large molecules in the blood from entering the brain—becomes abnormally permeable, ...

Function of neutrophils during tumor progression unraveled

October 15, 2018
Researchers at The Wistar Institute have characterized the function of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, during early stages of tumor progression, showing that they migrate from the bone marrow to distant sites and ...

Immune health maintained by meticulously ordered DNA

October 15, 2018
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have revealed how immune health is maintained by the exquisite organisation skills of a protein called Pax5.

Enzyme that triggers autoimmune responses from T-cells in patients with MS found

October 11, 2018
A team of researchers from Switzerland, the U.S. and Spain has isolated an enzyme that triggers an autoimmune response from T-cells in patients with MS. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, ...

Scientists reveal new cystic fibrosis treatments work best in inflamed airways

October 11, 2018
A new UNC School of Medicine study shows that two cystic fibrosis (CF) drugs aimed at correcting the defected CFTR protein seem to be more effective when a patient's airway is inflamed. This is the first study to evaluate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.