Asthma and COVID-19: A new research letter published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society assesses whether asthma is an important risk factor for developing COVID-19 that’s severe enough to warrant hospitalization and intubation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with asthma are at greater risk for hospitalization and other serious effects from COVID-19, very similar to the increased risk from these health conditions as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
In “Asthma in COVID-19 Hospitalizations: An Overestimated Risk Element?,” Fernando Holguin, MD, MPH, and co-authors compared the incidence of asthma among patients hospitalized for COVID-19, as reported in 15 peer-reviewed research, together with that of the corresponding people’s asthma incidence.
They also correlated the study’s asthma incidence with the four-year average asthma incidence in influenza hospitalizations in America.
Additionally, they examined the medical records of 436 COVID-19 patients admitted to the University of Colorado Hospital to assess the probability that patients with asthma could be intubated more frequently than patients without asthma.
The researchers conducted a concentrated review of English-language scientific literature so as to identify studies reporting asthma incidence among patients hospitalized for COVID-19 disease.
Three independent reviewers agreed on 15 studies to include in the study. Using local data from hospitalized COVID-19 patients, they conducted a statistical analysis to ascertain the association between asthma status and intubation, once they took into consideration patients’ age, sex, and body mass index (BMI).
Asthma Patients Got Hospitalized
The authors said, “We found that the percentage of asthmatics among hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is relatively similar to that of each study site’s inhabitants asthma prevalence. This finding is in stark contrast to flu, in which asthmatics constitute more than 20 percent of those hospitalized in America.”
“Using data from our clinic, we also observed that among COVID-19 patients, people who have asthma, which had a 12 percent incidence rate, did not appear to be more likely to be intubated than non-asthmatics,” they added.
Dr. Holguin and colleagues theorize that the corticosteroid inhalers many people with asthma use make it even more challenging for coronaviruses to enter their airways.
Specifically, these individuals may have lower levels of expression of ACE2, a protein that binds to SARS-CoV-2, the virus brought on by COVID-19. People with asthma that’s related to allergies may also have lower expression of ACE2, whether they use corticosteroids.
“The participation of ACE2 receptor expression amounts to COVID-19 susceptibility remains unclear, but it should surely be further investigated,” said Dr. Holguin. Dr. Holguin adds that the asthma-COVID-intubation risk relationship ought to be studied further.