Asthma and COPD are More Common in Lupus and Tied to Worse Outcomes
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two chronic respiratory conditions, are found to be significantly more common among people with lupus compared to the general population. Both conditions affect the lungs and can cause difficulty breathing. And, the diseases are associated with worse outcomes as reported by people with lupus, according to new research.
Researchers assessed the data of people with lupus from two sources: the FORWARD National Databank of Rheumatic Diseases from Wichita, Kansas and the Lupus Outcomes Study (LOS) from the University of California San Francisco. In the FORWARD group, 20% of the participants had asthma and 8% had COPD at baseline. By the end of the three-year follow-up period, an additional 9% developed one of the two conditions. Overall, even more people in the LOS group reported breathing problems: 36% of participants reported having one of the two conditions at baseline and another 11% developed asthma or COPD within the next three years.
Those figures are notably higher than those in the general population. Comparatively, just under 10% of U.S. adults have asthma and about 6% have COPD.
What’s more, the two conditions are associated with worse outcomes as reported by people with lupus. In both groups, people with asthma and COPD reported worse physical functioning and perceived mental functioning, as well as greater fatigue and lupus disease activity compared to those without the co-occurring illnesses. In the FORWARD group, people with one of the respiratory conditions also reported greater worsening of some symptoms over the follow-up period. The researchers did not find the same pattern among LOS subjects, however.
The two sets of data underscore that people with lupus have an elevated risk of developing these chronic breathing problems, especially asthma, and these diseases can take a measurable toll on quality of life. Fortunately, diagnosing these potentially life-threatening conditions is usually straightforward, and treatment is often successful. Learn about the connection between lupus and the lungs.