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      Asthma exacerbations: prevention is better than cure

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          Abstract

          Poorly controlled asthma is currently treated by adding or removing asthma medication in a stepwise fashion to try and improve symptoms and maintain lung function. It is becoming apparent that asthma exacerbations are independent of asthma control and severity, and that the simple method of using rescue courses of corticosteroids to treat an asthma exacerbation can be bettered by aiming to prevent its occurrence. New tools that can predict and prevent exacerbations are now becoming available. This article discusses these tools and takes a more detailed look at new treatment regimes being used.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Asthma exacerbations and sputum eosinophil counts: a randomised controlled trial.

          Treatment decisions in asthma are based on assessments of symptoms and simple measures of lung function, which do not relate closely to underlying eosinophilic airway inflammation. We aimed to assess whether a management strategy that minimises eosinophilic inflammation reduces asthma exacerbations compared with a standard management strategy. We recruited 74 patients with moderate to severe asthma from hospital clinics and randomly allocated them to management either by standard British Thoracic Society asthma guidelines (BTS management group) or by normalisation of the induced sputum eosinophil count and reduction of symptoms (sputum management group). We assessed patients nine times over 12 months. The results were used to manage those in the sputum management group, but were not disclosed in the BTS group. The primary outcomes were the number of severe exacerbations and control of eosinophilic inflammation, measured by induced sputum eosinophil count. Analyses were by intention to treat. The sputum eosinophil count was 63% (95% CI 24-100) lower over 12 months in the sputum management group than in the BTS management group (p=0.002). Patients in the sputum management group had significantly fewer severe asthma exacerbations than did patients in the BTS management group (35 vs 109; p=0.01) and significantly fewer patients were admitted to hospital with asthma (one vs six, p=0.047). The average daily dose of inhaled or oral corticosteroids did not differ between the two groups. A treatment strategy directed at normalisation of the induced sputum eosinophil count reduces asthma exacerbations and admissions without the need for additional anti-inflammatory treatment.
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            Can guideline-defined asthma control be achieved? The Gaining Optimal Asthma ControL study.

            For most patients, asthma is not controlled as defined by guidelines; whether this is achievable has not been prospectively studied. A 1-year, randomized, stratified, double-blind, parallel-group study of 3,421 patients with uncontrolled asthma compared fluticasone propionate and salmeterol/fluticasone in achieving two rigorous, composite, guideline-based measures of control: totally and well-controlled asthma. Treatment was stepped-up until total control was achieved (or maximum 500 microg corticosteroid twice a day). Significantly more patients in each stratum (previously corticosteroid-free, low- and moderate-dose corticosteroid users) achieved control with salmeterol/fluticasone than fluticasone. Total control was achieved across all strata: 520 (31%) versus 326 (19%) patients after dose escalation (p < 0.001) and 690 (41%) versus 468 (28%) at 1 year for salmeterol/fluticasone and fluticasone, respectively. Asthma became well controlled in 1,071 (63%) versus 846 (50%) after dose escalation (p < 0.001) and 1,204 (71%) versus 988 (59%) at 1 year. Control was achieved more rapidly and at a lower corticosteroid dose with salmeterol/fluticasone versus fluticasone. Across all strata, 68% and 76% of the patients receiving salmeterol/fluticasone and fluticasone, respectively, were on the highest dose at the end of treatment. Exacerbation rates (0.07-0.27 per patient per year) and improvement in health status were significantly better with salmeterol/fluticasone. This study confirms that the goal of guideline-derived asthma control was achieved in a majority of the patients.
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              A 15-year follow-up study of ventilatory function in adults with asthma.

              Although the prevalence of asthma and morbidity related to asthma are increasing, little is known about the natural history of lung function in adults with this disease. We used data from a longitudinal epidemiologic study of the general population in a Danish city, the Copenhagen City Heart Study, to analyze changes over time in the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in adults with self-reported asthma and adults without asthma. The study was conducted between 1976 and 1994; for each patient, three measurements of lung function were obtained over a 15-year period. The final data set consisted of measurements from 17,506 subjects (8136 men and 9370 women), of whom 1095 had asthma. Among subjects who participated in all three evaluations, the unadjusted decline in FEV1 among subjects with asthma was 38 ml per year, as compared with 22 ml per year in those without asthma. The decline in FEV1 normalized for height (FEV1 divided by the square of the height in meters) was greater among the subjects with asthma than among those without the disease (P<0.001). Among both men and women, and among both smokers and nonsmokers, subjects with asthma had greater declines in FEV1 over time than those without asthma (P<0.001). At the age of 60 years, a 175-cm-tall nonsmoking man without asthma had an average FEV1 of 3.05 liters, as compared with 1.99 liters for a man of similar age and height who smoked and had asthma. In a sample of the general population, people who identified themselves as having asthma had substantially greater declines in FEV1 over time than those who did not.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                1176-6336
                1178-203X
                December 2005
                December 2005
                : 1
                : 4
                : 273-277
                Affiliations
                Institute for Lung Health, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Thoracic Surgery, Glenfield Hospital Leicester, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Dominick E Shaw Institute for Lung Health, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Thoracic Surgery, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester LE3 9QP, UK Tel + 44 116 287 1471 Fax + 44 116 236 7768 Email dominic.shaw@ 123456uhl-tr.nhs.uk
                Article
                1661638
                18360570
                © 2005 Dove Medical Press Limited. All rights reserved
                Categories
                Review

                Medicine

                asthma exacerbation, corticosteroids, asthma treatment regimes

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