- Asthma, is a long-term respiratory illness associated with the
inflamed and swollen
when symptoms are triggered.
research team found that 33% of adults who were diagnosed
with asthma, actually did not have it.
- About 90% of the patients did not need to take medications,
indicating unnecessary medical costs.
is a common long-term respiratory disease, but a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
that among adults who are diagnosed with asthma, 33% do not have active asthma.
Asthma medications could be stopped for more than a year for nearly 90% of the
lead author of the study respirologist, Dr.
Shawn Aaron who is a senior scientist at The Ottowa Hospital said that it was
impossible to determine how
many of the patients were misdiagnosed and how many have asthma which may no
longer be active. The scientist continues that their study was able to analyze how many of the patients could stop taking medications, which is
significant as the medications are expensive and can lead to the development of
‘Patients should request for a spirometry to avoid misdiagnosis of Asthma’
study found that
- 33% did not have
- 90% could stop medications
- 80% who did not
have asthma were taking asthma medication
- 35% of these
participants were taking medications daily though they did not need to
- Doctors did not
always order tests to confirm diagnosis of asthma
- Diagnosis was
based mostly on symptoms that patients presented with
Aaron continued that doctors would not fail to check blood sugar levels before
diagnosing diabetes or test for broken bones using an x-ray but he said that
"for some reason" doctors were not ordering for spirometry before they
is a long-term illness associated with
the airways which include bronchial tubes. Asthma results in the airways becoming
inflamed and swollen with the muscles tightening when symptoms are triggered.
This restricts the passage of air moving in and out of the lungs, leading to
symptoms that include wheezing
, chest tightness, shortness of breath
as well as coughing.
The study involved 613 random patients who were from 10 different Canadian cities who
were diagnosed with asthma during the last five years. They were made to
undergo a series of detailed breathing tests after which they were checked by
lung specialist who ruled out asthma in a third of the patients.
medical records of 530 of the study participants were analyzed and the original
diagnosis was determined. One of the significant aspects of the study was that
in nearly 49% of the study participants the physicians did not order air flow
tests, a test that was deemed necessary according to medical guidelines.
Re-diagnosis of Asthma
the study participants were re-diagnosed, it was found that
- Many of the study
participants had minor health issues that ranged from heart burn to
- 28% of the
participants had nothing wrong with them
- 2% had serious
conditions like heart disease or pulmonary hypertension which was
misdiagnosed as asthma. These patients were then guided for more
Aaron said that most patients, who received the news that they did not have
asthma, were not surprised at all. Some people felt that their "puffer" wasn't
working while others believed that they had
a more serious condition. Most of the conditions that were diagnosed as a
result of this study were not serious and
could be treated easily.
study also details the situation of Becky Hollingsworth who is a 72-year-old retired nurse who
was diagnosed to have asthma about two years ago. During the course of the
study, she found out that she suffered a temporary breathing problem which led
to shortness of breath, remnants of her bout with pneumonia. Becky said that
she was happy that she did not have asthma and though she was falsely
diagnosed, she had to deal with problems associated with chronic illness, like
increased insurance while traveling and the need to take medications.
Previous Study by Dr.
This study is not the first time that Dr.
Aaron has been studying the gross misdiagnosis of asthma. In a previous study
conducted in 2008,
- 30% of asthma
patients were misdiagnosed
- A Canadian survey
from 2010 showed that
- 8.5% of Canadians
over 12 years of age were diagnosed with asthma
is a life-long condition, though it could become less intense or could
completely go away.
Aaron said that there was a need to educate physicians and that public had a
right for correct diagnosis. The public who suffer from persistent
breathing difficulty should:
- Request their
doctor for a breathing test (spirometry) to identify if they have asthma
or some other chronic pulmonary disease.
- Take their
severity of asthma necessitates appropriate medical attention but misdiagnosis
could result in unnecessary medication as well as increased insurance costs.
- Asthma Overview - (http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma)