Saturday, 28 March 2015

Weight-Loss Surgery Might Reduce Serious Asthma Flare-Ups


Emergency visits, hospitalizations for airway disease dropped by half after procedure, study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Nina Flanagan

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- In obese people with asthma, weight-loss surgery has been linked to a significant reduction in serious asthma flare-ups, new research suggests.

"We found that risk of an emergency department visit or hospitalization for asthma exacerbation decreased by half after bariatric [weight-loss] surgery and remained significantly lower for at least 2 years," the study authors wrote in the report.

The study relied on weight-loss surgery as an "instrument of substantial weight loss," according to the study's lead author Dr. Kohei Hasegawa, an attending physician in the emergency department of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. But, the study didn't have any specific information on the patients' weights before and after surgery, according to Hasegawa.

So it's not clear how much weight needs to be lost to make a difference in serious asthma symptoms, or if losing greater amounts of weight was linked to an even greater reduction in asthma flare-ups.

It's also important to note that this study was designed only to find an association between weight-loss surgery and fewer asthma flare-ups; it cannot show that surgery or expected weight loss from the surgery actually caused the reduction in serious asthma symptoms.

Findings from the study were published online recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Asthma is a chronic disease caused by inflamed, narrowed airways. Symptoms of the disease include difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing. About 25 million people in the United States have asthma, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Weight-loss surgery is generally only recommended for people who are severely obese, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

There are a variety of weight-loss surgeries available. The three most common are: gastric bypass; gastric sleeve; and the lap band. The first two procedures are the most effective, with 70 to 80 percent of extra weight lost; and the lap band reduces excess weight by about 40 percent, according to Dr. John Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

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