Aspirin Ups Risk of Hospitalization for Asthma
Menstrual Cycle Can Also Lead to Asthma Attack
May 26, 2005 (San Diego) -- Patients who have aspirin-sensitive asthma are
three to four times more likely to end up in the intensive care unit.
The second group at higher risk was women who have asthma attacks triggered
by their menstrual cycle, researchers report.
"If they are aspirin-sensitive they have a higher risk for going into
the hospital intensive care unit, says Sally Wenzel, MD, professor of medicine
at the National Jewish Hospital Medical Research Center in Denver. Many of
these patients end up on a breathing machine several times, she says.
Aspirin was at the top of the list of risk factors that could place an
asthma patient in the intensive care unit. Patients who had aspirin-sensitive
asthma attacks were 3.6 times as likely to end up in intensive care with
Wenzel revealed the findings at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic
Young Patients Should Avoid Aspirin, Ibuprofen
In light of the study findings, patients who are diagnosed with asthma
before age 12, a factor already placing them at higher risk, should not take
aspirin or similar products like ibuprofen or naproxen, Wenzel says. "Their
option: Tylenol, [because] there is a higher likelihood that they will be
aspirin-sensitive," she tells WebMD. Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol's
maker, is a WebMD sponsor.
The Denver researchers studied 382 patients with asthma to determine which
factors placed them at higher risk for a trip to the emergency room and
"This study identifies patients who are at particular risk for a severe
asthma attack requiring intensive care," says Herbert Wiedemann, chairman
of the department of pulmonary, allergy, and critical care medicine at The
Cleveland Clinic. "Now physicians will able to recognize patients at
high-risk and help prevent attacks."
Newest Risk Factor: Menstrual Cycle
The newest risk factor shown in this study is asthma related to women's
menstrual cycles, Wiedemann says. "Physicians may have to use preventive
medicine in these women just before and during their cycle."
Asthma attack risk was equal in risk to aspirin. Women who had asthma
attacks before or at the start of their menstrual period had three times the
risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit.
Researchers also found that blacks were twice as likely to end up in the
emergency room or hospital as other asthma patients. Also, asthma patients who
had been previously hospitalized were twice as likely to go through the
emergency room and be hospitalized again.
The highest associations were aspirin and premenstrual symptoms, Wenzel
says. "Strangely enough, these two associations tended to interact with
each other. Both were associated with near-fatal events."
It may be that some patients have certain characteristics that place them
more at risk and the current approach to therapy may not be appropriate for
them, she says.