Asthmatics who have their disease well under control have less severe COVID-19 results than those with uncontrolled asthma, researchers said Tuesday in a large study conducted by USC and Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
Findings, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, suggest that asthma patients, especially those in need of clinical care, should continue to take their asthma medication during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone with asthma should continue to work with their doctor to ensure they are getting the best treatment for their asthma, which will result in better asthma control and reduce the chance of severe COVID-19 outcomes,” said Zhanghua Chen, a co-lead author and Assistant Professor of Population and Health Sciences at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
Approximately 25 million Americans have asthma, a potentially serious respiratory disease given the widespread transmission of COVID. The asthma numbers correspond to about 1 in 13 Americans, including 8% of adults and 7% of children.
The collaboration between USC and Kaiser Permanente gave researchers the opportunity to assess the impact of breathing disorders on COVID-19 outcomes in a population with equal access to health care. Researchers collected data from 61,338 COVID-19 patients from March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020 using Kaiser Permanente Southern California electronic medical records. The mean age was 43.9 years; 54% were women and 66% were Hispanic race / ethnicity.
The researchers also further separated the data, with the active group taking into account all patients who had a clinical visit for asthma within the past 12 months and the inactive group those who did not.
A total of 2,751 patients were in the inactive asthma group versus 2,775 in the active group. Patients in the active asthma group were significantly more likely to be hospitalized, require intensive respiratory support, and ICU admission within 30 days of being diagnosed with COVID-19, compared to those without asthma or those who were chronically obstructive History of lung disease.
A history of COPD was associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, the need for intensive respiratory support, and death within 60 days of COVID-19. It is noteworthy that the researchers did not see a higher probability of death within 60 days for the group with active asthma.
“This study went beyond examining the effects of asthma on COVID-19 outcomes and instead focused on how COVID-19 outcomes for asthma patients might change depending on their level of asthma control,” study author Anny Xiang said Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. “We also saw that even in patients with active asthma, when they took asthma medication, the likelihood of COVID-19 results getting worse decreased, demonstrating the importance of these medications.”
The study was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institutes of Health.