GP visits for asthma attacks in England fell significantly during the first COVID-19 lockdown, a study has found (17 February 2021).
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh examined a national GP database and identified 100,165 people who had at least one asthma attack between January 2016 and August 2020.
The team calculated the number of asthma attacks that resulted in a GP visit and the number that needed a hospital visit in weekly blocks. They compared data for January–August 2020 with the average weekly rates for January–August in 2016–2019.
The researchers observed a substantial drop in GP visits for asthma attacks after the lockdown was imposed on 23 March 2020. This was true across all age groups, for both men and women, and across most regions of England. There was no reduction in the rate of asthma attacks that led to a hospital visit.
“Until now, we didn’t know how [asthma] patients were being affected by lockdown,” said Syed Shah, lead researcher on the study.
“The data suggest that there was a substantial reduction in GP contacts for asthma. Further research will help explain whether this reduction was due to reduction in air pollution and restricted movement leading to fewer triggers, or whether some patients stayed at home and did not contact their GPs despite asthma attacks.”
- 1Shah SA, Quint JK, Nwaru BI, et al. Impact of COVID-19 national lockdown on asthma exacerbations: interrupted time-series analysis of English primary care data. Thorax 2021;:thoraxjnl-2020-216512. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-216512