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Study looks into the risk of women with asthma going on to develop COPD

Study looks into the risk of women with asthma going on to develop COPD

Researchers in Canada have found that over 40% of women with asthma could go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Scientists looked at the long-term health records of 4,051 women with asthma living in Ontario, Canada. They found that 1,701 – or 42% – of the women went on to develop COPD.

When a person has symptoms of both asthma and COPD, their condition is often referred to as asthma and COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS). People that have ACOS are more likely to have more flare-ups of their symptoms and to need more hospital treatment, and tend to feel more unwell than people that have just asthma or COPD.

The researchers wanted to understand more about why some of the women with asthma developed ACOS, and why others did not. Using their health records, they compared a number of lifestyle and environmental risk factors among these women to see if there were any trends.

They found that women who were heavy smokers were at a higher risk of going on to develop ACOS – though 38% of those who did had never smoked. Other factors associated with a higher risk of ACOS included being obese, living in rural areas, having lower education levels and being unemployed.

The researchers therefore recommend that people with asthma are given support to live as healthily as possible – such as help with quitting smoking, eating healthily and being physically active.

The study was supported by the Ontario Thoracic Society and was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Read the press release.

Read the journal article.