Asthma Watch

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Aspirin May Reduce Asthma in Women

A large study of healthy women found that taking low doses ofaspirin lowered the rate of asthma. Two earlier studies involvingadult men and women have shown a significant reductionin the risk of newly diagnosed asthma linked with regularaspirin use, noted the researchers.

For the current study, the Harvard researchers lookedat data from the Women's Health Study, in which >37,000female health professionals aged 45 and older with no historyof asthma were randomly assigned aspirin 100 mg every otherday or placebo. During the next 10 years, fewer new cases ofdiagnosed asthma were seen in the aspirin group (872 cases),compared with the placebo group (963 cases), according tothe study published in the June 2008 issue of Thorax.

Some researchers debate the findings, however. In aneditorial in the same journal issue, researchers in the UnitedKingdom (UK) point out that women in the aspirin group had aconsiderably increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding requiringblood transfusion.

The UK researchers said that "before public recommendationsare provided, results from randomized trials are neededthat are specifically designed to test whether low-dose aspirinreduces the risk of asthma."

Eczema Ups Odds of Asthma Risk in Boys

Although no association has been reportedbetween early eczema and asthma ingirls, researchers found that boys whodevelop asthma in their first 2 years oflife are more likely to have asthma lateron in their lives.

For the study, the researchers followed403 children from families with ahistory of allergic disease. Of the boyswith eczema, the odds of an asthmadiagnosis by age 7 was 2.45 higher thanfor boys without the skin condition. Girlswith eczema, however, were 12% lesslikely to have asthma. Sensitization toallergens and wheeze also were relatedto asthma risk, but the researchers foundthat the eczema?asthma link was stillpresent after factoring in both symptoms.The results were reported in theMay 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergyand Clinical Immunology.

Allergy Cost Hits $11 Billion

A new report issued by the Agency forHealthcare Research and Quality foundthat Americans spent $11 billion on physicians'bills, prescription drugs, and otherallergy treatments in 2005. Sneezing,itchy eyes, and other allergy-relatedsymptoms sent 22 million individuals toa physician that year.

The money spent is almost double the$6 billion spent in 2000 on allergies. Ofthe $11 billion, physician visits accountedfor $4 billion and prescriptions drugstotaled $7 billion, the agency reported.The average annual spending on allergytreatment climbed from $350 per personto $520 per person between 2000 and2005.

The government statistics did notinclude OTC medications used to treatallergic rhinitis.

Study Finds Asthma Link to Heart Disease

Adult-onset asthma seems to raisethe risk of heart disease and strokeamong women, but not men. For thestudy, the researchers used data fromthe Atherosclerosis Risk in Communitiesstudy to analyze the correlation of asthmawith the risk of heart disease andstroke according to sex.

The researchers found that, comparedwith those without asthma, womenwith adult-onset asthma had a 2.10-foldincrease in the frequency of heart diseaseand a 2.36-fold increase in the rateof stroke. Reporting in the AmericanJournal of Cardiology (May 1, 2008), theresearchers did not find an associationbetween childhood- or adult-onset asthmaand heart disease or stroke in men,or between childhood-onset asthmaand heart disease or stroke in women.

Early DrugTherapy ImprovesSymptoms

Patients with milder asthma symptomshave better results in the long term ifthey begin using inhaled steroids earlyon, according to a study published in theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology(May 2008). The study involved 7241patients aged 5 to 66 with recently diagnosedmild persistent asthma.

Of the participants, about half wereassigned to take budesonide every day, inaddition to regular therapy. The remainingpatients continued with the usualtherapy alone for the first 3 years of thestudy, after which time they were giventhe option to start on budesonide.

The researchers reported that overall,patients who started on the inhaled steroidtherapy early in their diagnosis faredbetter over the long term. They also hadless need for other asthma medications,including long-acting beta-agonists.

F A S T F A C T: Asthma and allergies strike 1 of 4 Americans.