More Illness with Asthma

in Asthma
Published: September 2, 2010

People with asthma tend to get more illnesses and use more health-care services, than other members of the population.

That was the conclusion of researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences who looked at the health records of all 12 million Ontarians in 2005.

The findings showed that people with asthma saw a health-care professional 72 per cent more often (for ailments other than asthma) than other people, went to the emergency department twice as often, and required a hospital stay 66 per cent more often.

Dr. Andrea Gershon, the study’s lead researcher, says that because this study was based on administrative records such hospital discharge records, there are not a lot of specifics on what diseases people with asthma tend to have. But what they saw most commonly fell into three areas: respiratory diseases other than asthma, psychiatric disease and musculoskeletal disease.

It’s also not clear what the association is. “We don’t know for sure if it’s asthma that’s causing the other diseases, or the other diseases that are causing asthma.” Or, she says, something else entirely could be causing both health issues.

The idea of a chronic disease being associated with other conditions isn’t new, however, says Gershon. “When you think of a heart attack, somebody gets their cholesterol checked right away. If you think of diabetes, they get their kidneys checked, and their eyes checked.”

She and her team will next endeavour to find out more about what diseases are associated with asthma and why. Then doctors can start to look for other diseases in asthmatic patients to better diagnose and treat all conditions. Read more here.