A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers shows that bariatric surgery can notably reduce the risk of asthma attacks in obese patients with asthma.

According to a Health Canal news report, the study is the first to find significant weight reduction can reduce severe asthma-linked events. Researchers identified 2,261 obese patients with asthma who underwent bariatric surgery from 2007 to 2009 and for whom information covering the 2 years before and after their surgery was available using available databases reflecting the use of health services in Fla, Neb, and Calif.

The analysis revealed that during the 2 years prior to surgery, around 22% of the studied patients had at least one hospitalization or emergency department (ED) in each 1-year period. The Health Canal news report indicates that only 11% needed an ED visit or hospital admission in each year, and looking at hospitalization alone showed an even greater risk reduction, from around 7% to less than 3%. As compared to patients with who had other types of abdominal surgery, these patients showed that non-bariatric procedures had no impact on asthma exacerbation risk.

Lead author of the study Kohei Hasegawa, MD, MPH, MGH, says, “We found that, in obese patients with asthma, the risk of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for asthma exacerbations decreased by half in the two years after bariatric surgery.” Hasegawa adds, “Although previous studies of non-surgical weight loss interventions failed to show consistent results regarding asthma risks, our result strongly suggests that the kind of significant weight loss that often results from bariatric surgery can reduce adverse asthma events.”

As bariatric surgery results in significant weight loss, averaging around 35% of pre-surgical weight, Hasegawa states, “While we can’t currently say how much weight loss would be needed to reduce asthma risks, previous studies of non-surgical interventions indicate that modest weight loss is not enough.” Hasegawa adds, “To decrease asthma-related adverse events in the millions of obese individuals with asthma, we probably will need to develop safe, effective non-surgical approaches to achieve major weight loss.”

Source: Health Canal