Study objectives: To clarify the pathophysiologic features of the relation between asthma and obesity, we measured the effects of weight reduction on peak expiratory flow (PEF) variability and airways obstruction, compared to simultaneous changes in lung volumes and ventilatory mechanics in obese patients with stable asthma.
Methods: Fourteen obese asthma patients (11 women and 3 men; aged 25 to 62 years) were studied before and after a very-low-calorie-diet period of 8 weeks. PEF variability was determined as diurnal and day-to-day variations. FEV(1) and maximal expiratory flow values were measured with a flow-volume spirometer. Lung volumes, airways resistance (Raw), and specific airways conductance were measured using a constant-volume body plethysmograph. Minute ventilation was monitored in patients in supine and standing positions.
Results: As patients decreased their body mass index (SD) from 37.2 (3.7) to 32.1(4.2) kg/m(2) (p < 0. 001), diurnal PEF variation declined from 5.5% (2.4) to 4.5% (1.5) (p = 0.01), and day-to-day variation declined from 5.3% (2.6) to 3. 1% (1.3) (p < 0.005). The mean morning PEF, FEV(1), and FVC increased after weight loss (p = 0.001, p < 0.005, and p < 0.05, respectively). Flow rate at the middle part of FVC (FEF(25-75)) increased even when related to lung volumes (FEF(25-75)/FVC; p < 0. 05). Functional residual capacity and expiratory reserve volume were significantly higher after weight loss (p < 0.05 and p < 0.005, respectively). A significant reduction in Raw was found (p < 0.01). Resting minute ventilation decreased after weight loss (p = 0.01).
Conclusion: Weight loss reduces airways obstruction as well as PEF variability in obese patients with asthma. The results suggest that obese patients benefit from weight loss by improved pulmonary mechanics and a better control of airways obstruction.