Lifestyle factors play a role in asthma control, according to new study

A summary of research published in the European Respiratory Journal

Asthma is a complex disease. Symptoms of asthma can range from mild to severe. We do not yet understand why asthma affects people in such different ways. Because asthma affects people so differently, it is not always possible to completely personalise the treatment for each person, even though this would be the ideal way to manage someone’s condition.

This study aimed to look at whether other lifestyle factors play a role in how asthma affects us.

What did the study look at?

296 people with moderate to severe asthma from Brazil and Australia were included in the study. They were asked about their levels of physical activity, how much time they spent sitting or being inactive, how well their asthma was controlled and whether they experienced any psychological or mental health issues. The researchers then examined these findings and looked for any patterns and links between the factors.

What do the results show?

The results identified four distinctive groups of people:

  • People with controlled asthma who were physically active
  • People with uncontrolled asthma who were physical inactive
  • People with uncontrolled asthma with low levels of activity, who were also obese and experienced anxiety and/or depression
  • People with very uncontrolled asthma, who were physically inactive, obese and experienced anxiety and/or depression

People with higher levels of time spent sitting, women and people with anxiety symptoms were all more likely to experience flare ups of asthma symptoms. People who were more active were less likely to be hospitalised for their asthma.

Why is this important?

These findings suggest that being inactive, obese, or experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression can all be linked with experiencing worse asthma symptoms and poor control of a person’s asthma. This study suggests that lifestyle factors and health conditions that do not directly involve the lungs need to be considered when healthcare professionals are deciding on the best way to treat and manage a person’s asthma. This would create a more personalised approach to treatment and could to improve symptoms for people with asthma.

Read the original research paper:

Title: Identification of asthma phenotypes based on extrapulmonary treatable traits

This is the first study identifying clusters based on extrapulmonary treatable traits in people with 35 moderate-to-severe asthma. Physical inactivity, higher levels of sedentary time, symptoms of36 anxiety and depression, and obesity were associated with worse asthma outcomes.