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15-04-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Asthma patients at increased risk for anaphylaxis


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MedWire News: Patients with asthma are at greater risk for anaphylaxis than individuals without the respiratory condition, and the risk for anaphylaxis increases with increasing asthma severity, study results show.

“The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network have recommended that anaphylaxis be defined as ‘a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death’, [which] can be triggered by allergic responses to a wide range of substances, including food, medications, wasp or bee stings, and latex,” explain Luis Alberto García Rodríguez (Centro Español de Investigación Farmacoepidemiológica, Madrid, Spain) and colleagues.

But they add: “There are currently limited data regarding the epidemiology of anaphylaxis.”

To investigate the association between asthma and anaphylaxis, the team studied data from the UK Health Improvement Network database, which contains information on more than 2.3 million patients registered with over 300 general practices.

Data on a total of 177,000 patients with asthma and 200,000 age- and gender-matched patients without the condition aged 10–79 years were included in the final analysis.

The researchers found that the incidence of anaphylaxis was 50.45 per 100,000 person-years in the asthma patients compared with just 21.28 per 100,000 person-years in those without asthma.

Compared with non-asthmatic patients, the relative risk (RR) for anaphylaxis in patients with severe asthma was 3.29, while the RR for those with nonsevere asthma was 2.07.

In both asthmatic and nonasthmatic patients, the incidence of anaphylaxis was significantly higher in women than men.

The team also found that in patients with asthma, the incidence of anaphylaxis was significantly higher in those with allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis than in those without these conditions, as well as in current users of antihistamines, oral steroids, or antibiotics than in nonusers.

Rodríguez et al conclude in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “Patients with asthma have a greater risk of anaphylaxis than those without asthma, and the risk is greater in severe than nonsevere asthma. Women are at higher risk of anaphylaxis than men, especially those with severe asthma.”

They recommend: “Physicians should consider anaphylaxis risk factors including sex, comorbidities, and concomitant medications, along with the need for increased education among at-risk patients, such as those with asthma.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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