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11-04-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Bariatric surgery reduces respiratory medication use


Free abstract

MedWire News: Weight-loss surgery reduces respiratory medication use among obese individuals, including those with asthma, researchers have found.

Obesity, which affects an estimated 32% of US adults, is associated with an increased risk for respiratory symptoms and asthma, explain Naveen Sikka and team from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, USA.

They add: “Several studies have shown improvement after bariatric surgery in chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, sleep apnea, and hyperlipidemia. However, data describing respiratory improvement after bariatric surgery are limited.”

To investigate further, the researchers studied 320 obese patients, aged an average of 46 years, who underwent bariatric surgery at their hospital between 2002 and 2005. They compared data on respiratory medication prescriptions filled by the patients during the 1-year period before and the 1-year period after undergoing surgery.

The patients’ mean pre-surgical body mass index (BMI) was 49.0 kg/m2 and their mean post-surgical BMI was 34.1 kg/m2. The patients’ post-surgical weight loss was rapid, with two-thirds of the total weight loss achieved in the first 6 months after surgery.

In total, 468 respiratory medication prescriptions were filled by 64 (20%) patients during the 2-year study period. Of these prescriptions, 35% were for β-agonists, 38% for inhaled corticosteroids, 12% for oral corticosteroids, and 15% for leukotriene antagonists.

The researchers found that the total number of respiratory medication prescriptions filled by the patients fell from 314 in the pre-surgical year to 154 in the post-surgical year – a reduction of 49.0%. Only 43.1% of patients who filled prescriptions in the pre-surgical year also did so in the post-surgical year.

Among 40 patients with diagnosed asthma, the mean number of filled prescriptions fell from 7.0 in the pre-surgical year to 3.8 in the post-surgical year.

Sikka and team conclude: “Our data suggest that respiratory medication use decreases significantly for most patients after bariatric surgery.”

They add: “Whether improved asthma or other weight-dependent mechanisms are responsible for our observation is unclear and requires further investigation.”

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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