Typical antipsychotics is associated with increased risk of severe exacerbation in asthma patients: a nationwide population-based cohort study

BMC Pulm Med. 2022 Mar 14;22(1):85. doi: 10.1186/s12890-022-01883-6.


Background: Severe asthma exacerbation reduces patients' quality of life, results in visits to the emergency department (ED) and hospitalization, and incurs additional medical costs. Antipsychotics block receptors with bronchodilation function; however, the association between antipsychotic use and severe asthma exacerbation is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the effects of antipsychotics on asthma-related ED visits and hospitalizations.

Methods: A case-crossover design was used in this study. Using the 2003-2017 Taiwan National Health Insurance Reimbursement Database, we established a cohort of 18,657 adults with asthma exacerbation leading to ED visits or hospitalization. Univariate and multivariate conditional logistic regressions were conducted to explore the association between antipsychotic use and severe asthma exacerbation. Subgroup analyses of different classes, doses, receptor functions of antipsychotics, different psychiatric disease, and sensitivity analyses of excluding patients with schizophrenia were also performed.

Results: Antipsychotic use was associated with a higher risk of severe asthma exacerbation (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 1.27; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.54; P = 0.013) compared with no use of antipsychotics. The use of typical antipsychotics increased the risk of severe asthma exacerbation (adjusted OR: 1.40, 95% CI 1.10-1.79, P = 0.007), whereas the use of atypical antipsychotics did not. These results did not change after the exclusion of patients with schizophrenia. There was a dose-dependent effect of antipsychotics (trend test, P = 0.025). Antipsychotics that block the M2 muscarinic or D2 dopaminergic receptors were associated with an increased risk of severe asthma exacerbation (adjusted OR: 1.39, 95% CI 1.10-1.76, P = 0.007 and adjusted OR: 1.33, 95% CI 1.08-1.63, P = 0.008, respectively). However, use of antipsychotics did not increase risk of severe asthma exacerbation in patients with psychiatric disorder.

Conclusions: The use of typical antipsychotics is associated with a dose-dependent increased risk of severe asthma exacerbation, especially for patients without psychiatric disorders. Further research on the impact of typical antipsychotics on asthma exacerbation is warranted.

Keywords: Antipsychotics; Asthma; Exacerbation; Psychiatric disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Asthma* / chemically induced
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antipsychotic Agents