High Risk of Pulmonary Embolism Seen in Severe Asthma

Severe asthma, oral corticosteroid use are significant, independent risk factors for asthma

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with asthma are at higher risk of pulmonary embolism, particularly if the asthma is severe or they take oral corticosteroids, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in the European Respiratory Journal.

Christof J. Majoor, M.D., from the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, and colleagues surveyed the incidence of venous thromboembolic events in 365 adult patients with mild-to-moderate asthma and 283 adult patients with severe asthma, compared with an age- and gender-matched reference population.

The researchers found that there had been 35 venous thromboembolic events, of which 16 were deep-vein thrombosis and 19 were pulmonary embolism. Asthma was associated with a higher incidence of pulmonary embolism only, with an incidence (per 1,000 person-years) of 0.93 in patients with severe asthma and 0.33 in patients with mild-to-moderate asthma, compared with 0.18 in the general population. The risk of pulmonary embolism was significantly and independently increased with severe asthma (hazard ratio, 3.33) and oral corticosteroid use (hazard ratio, 2.82). There was no association seen between asthma and deep vein thrombosis.

"In conclusion, our study suggests that patients with asthma, in particular those with severe, refractory disease, have a high risk of pulmonary embolism, which may be further increased by asthma severity and oral corticosteroids," Majoor and colleagues write.

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