BACKGROUND: Obese children frequently complain of breathlessness. Asthma and obesity can both contribute to the symptoms during exercise, and this symptom can contribute to a diagnosis of asthma in these children. Despite the high prevalence of obesity few studies have investigated the cardiopulmonary physiology of breathlessness in obese children with a diagnosis of asthma.<br /><br />METHODS: In this case-control study, thirty adolescents between age 12 and 19 were studied with baseline spirometry and a cardiopulmonary exercise test. Ten adolescents were normal controls, ten had obesity without a diagnosis of asthma, and ten had obesity with a history of physician-diagnosed asthma.<br /><br />RESULTS: Baseline characteristics including complete blood count and spirometry were comparable between obese adolescents with and without a diagnosis of asthma. During exercise, obese asthmatic and obese non-asthmatic adolescents had significantly reduced physical fitness compared to healthy controls as evidenced by decreased peak oxygen uptake after adjusting for actual body weight (21.7 ± 4.5 vs. 21.4 ± 5.4 vs. 35.3 ± 5.8 ml/kg/min, respectively). However, pulmonary capacity at the peak of exercise was comparable among all three groups as evidenced by similar pulmonary reserve.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: In this study, breathlessness was primarily due to cardiopulmonary deconditioning in the majority of obese adolescents with or without a diagnosis of asthma.
Shim, Y. M., Burnette, A., Lucas, S., Herring, R. C., Weltman, J., Patrie, J. T., … Platts-Mills, T. A. (2013). Physical Deconditioning as a Cause of Breathlessness among Obese Adolescents with a Diagnosis of Asthma. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061022