Toronto: A new study by Canadian researchers as revealed that people with asthma face much greater risks of suffering from additional diseases than those without it.
Asthmatics will often see their physicians or visit hospitals more often than the general population for treatment of their lung ailment.
But the study found that people with asthma are also more likely to see their doctors, go to the emergency room or end up in hospital for health problems unrelated to asthma.
“I think it tells us asthma is not only a disease of the lungs, it affects the rest of the body,” The Globe and Mail quoted Andrea Gershon, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto and lead author of the study, as saying.
“I think we need to start thinking bigger when we think about asthma,” Gershon added.
Asthmatics see their doctors for other health problems 72 per cent more often than those without asthma, the study found.
They are most likely to suffer respiratory diseases, psychiatric problems and musculoskeletal diseases, it said.
It also found that asthmatics go to the emergency department for other diseases more than twice as often as non-asthmatics and require hospitalization 66 per cent more often for reasons unrelated to asthma.
The study was conducted using health databases of Ontario residents in 2005.
The researchers found that asthma and its co-morbidities – conditions that coexist with the primary disease – were responsible for 6 per cent of the 2.2 million hospitalizations in Ontario in 2005, 9 per cent of the nearly five million emergency room visits, and 6 per cent of the more than 130 million outpatient visits that year.
There is no evidence that asthma causes these additional health problems, Gershon said.
It’s possible that physical activity limitations caused by asthma may lead to other health problems such as depression, osteoporosis or obesity, the study said. However, side effects from asthma medications could also lead to the development of other health problems.
Some people with asthma may be subject to genetic or environmental factors that make them susceptible to certain additional diseases, the study said.
The study has been published in the medial journal Thorax.