Weight loss may improve lung function in obese women

Obese women who lose weight may experience improved respiratory function, Canadian researchers report in the June issue of Chest.

“Weight loss seems to work to reduce breathlessness,” lead investigator Dr. Shawn D. Aaron, said in an interview, “by unloading the respiratory muscles from the extra weight load around the chest muscles that the muscles were forced to work against.”

In a prospective study, Dr. Aaron, of Ottawa Hospital and colleagues examined 58 obese women enrolled in an intensive six-month weight loss program. Of the 58 patients, 24 were asthmatic.

Overall, patients who lost more than 13 percent of their pretreatment weight experienced improvements in forced vital capacity, lung function and total lung capacity compared with patients who failed to lose significant amounts of weight.

“If obese women want to improve their lung health and their breathlessness, then weight loss will clearly help,” Dr. Aaron said. “Those with and without asthma benefit from weight loss since they all significantly improve their lung capacity.”

Moreover, he added,“in my clinical experience many obese women who lose a lot of weight are able to reduce - or eliminate - their need for asthma medications.”

SOURCE: Chest, June 2004.

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Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD