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National Survey Reveals Gap in Asthma Knowledge


Contact:  Angel Waldron at 202-466-7643, x248

www.AsthmaGAP.comWASHINGTON, DC, April 13 --A new nationwide telephone survey of 1,001 patients found that while most asthma patients know the risks of “uncontrolled asthma,” they misinterpret asthma control, not realizing that asthma is a chronic disease that requires long-term therapy (3, A, 216) – even when asthma symptoms are not present (4, A, 2) . Data from The Asthma G.A.P. in America II: General Awareness and Perceptions survey found that 97 percent of asthma patients understand that uncontrolled asthma poses serious health risks (1, A, 21), but an astounding 70 percent who had taken an asthma controller medicine halted their prescribed long-term treatment because they incorrectly believed their asthma was controlled (1, B, 34) .

The survey included 300 physicians and showed that eight in 10 physicians are concerned that if their patients stop their asthma controller medications, they may face serious consequences, including frequent, unexpected trips to the emergency room (1, I, 59). The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) conducted the study with support from AstraZeneca.

“This survey shows there’s an alarming divide between what people know about their asthma and the actions they take to achieve optimal control of their asthma symptoms,” said Mike Tringale, AAFA's Director of External Affairs. “Part of the problem may be that many patients believe their asthma is under control once they’re no longer experiencing symptoms (1, C, 34). Asthma patients can take action to better manage their asthma symptoms through appropriate treatment, tools and resources, many of which are available at

People with asthma suffer from chronic lung inflammation (swelling), which, left untreated, can lead to progressive loss of lung function and other severe consequences (2, A, 16; 2, B, 16). Despite these known facts, nearly half (42 percent) of patients surveyed incorrectly believe that when asthma symptoms subside, their controller medicine can be taken less regularly (1, D, 22). For those with persistent asthma, a controller, or maintenance medications, helps manage chronic lung inflammation (3, A, 216). When taken over the long-term, asthma controller medications are shown to not only help control asthma symptoms, but also help to improve lung function (3, B, 218)

Among all patients, seven in 10 (71%) report they stopped controller medications because they only take them when they have asthma symptoms (1, F, 34). Notable proportions of patients surveyed who have stopped taking their controller medications in the past 12 months have experienced a sudden asthma episode that led to some consequence: emergency doctor visit (17%), missed work (12%), emergency room visit (12%), or some other serious health consequence (15%) (1, G, 10). This is in spite of the fact that of the patients taking a controller medication, nearly all (93%) of patients indicate that controller medications work best when taken every day (1, H, 21).

“There is a clear need for more physician-to-patient education about asthma control and appropriate therapies,” said Dr. Reynold A. Panettieri, from the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the study. “The first step to asthma control is for patients and physicians to create an asthma action plan, which may include a controller therapy. 

Asthma, considered one of the most serious chronic diseases in the United States, affects more than 22 million Americans (4, C, 1). In fact, in 2004, sudden uncontrolled asthma episodes accounted for an estimated 1.8 million emergency room visits (6, A, 3) and nearly 500,000 hospitalizations (6, B, 3). Current asthma management guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) note that properly controlled asthma is marked by patients being able to carry out all normal day-to-day activities, a decrease in weekly symptoms (no more than two times per week) and a decrease in yearly asthma attacks (no more than one attack per year which required oral corticosteroid therapy) (4, D, 9).

Asthma patients should not have to accept “uncontrolled asthma” and frequent, unplanned visits to the ER as part of having asthma. Proper care and treatment may help patients better control their asthma symptoms. Visit www.AsthmaGap.com  and sign up to receive tools and resources to help make living with asthma easier.

Survey Design/Methodology

The Asthma G.A.P. II in America telephone survey was conducted between June 27 and August 18, 2008 among 3,664 adults who suffer from asthma. This included a national sample of 1,001 asthma sufferers from all ethnicities and regions, with additional people added to provide total samples of 436 African-Americans, 448 Hispanics and 1,779 residents in six select metro areas. This comprehensive study across states, gender, and ethnicities was conducted to determine what gaps exist between awareness and perceptions regarding asthma.

The telephone study was authored by Dr. Reynold A. Panettieri, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Sheldon Spector, California Allergy and Asthma Medical Group; Dr. Matthew Mintz, George Washington University Medical Center; and Mike Tringale, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

This survey was the second phase of the Asthma G.A.P. in America: General Awareness and Perceptions survey that initially launched in 2007 and revealed widespread misperceptions about asthma control.

Results based on the sample of adults nationwide have a margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points, with a 95% confidence level. The margin of error for the various sub-sample results is higher and varies. Visit AsthmaGap.com for more information about the survey.

About Asthma

Asthma is a condition characterized by inflammation of airways in the lungs resulting in chronic wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing (4, C, 1; 4, E, 1). Asthma has a significant impact on both individual lives and society (6, F, 1; 6, G, 1) including:

- More than 4,000 deaths occurred in 2003 (6, C, 3)

- Nearly 500,000 hospitalizations occurred in 2004 (6, B, 3)

- 12.8 million missed days of school in 2003, making asthma the leading cause of school absenteeism (6, D, 3; 7, B, 3)

- In 2003, over 10 million missed days of work for adults each year (6, E, 3)

- 1.8 million emergency room visits in 2004 (6, A, 3)

- Nearly $18 billion in medical expenses and indirect costs (7, A, 3)

About AAFA

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the leading national nonprofit organization fighting asthma and allergic diseases. AAFA provides free information, conducts educational programs, fights for patients’ rights, and funds research to find better treatments and cures. Log on to www.aafa.org for more information.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription medicines and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $29.55 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines.  In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $13.35 billion dollar healthcare business with 12,200 employees committed to improving people’s lives. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index. For more information visit http://www.astrazeneca-us.com.


SYMBICORT is a combination therapy indicated for the long-term maintenance treatment of asthma in patients 12 years of age and older (5, B, 4). SYMBICORT is not indicated in patients whose asthma can be successfully managed by inhaled corticosteroids along with occasional use of inhaled short-acting b2-agonists (5, C, 4). Administered twice daily (5, D, 6), SYMBICORT is a combination of two proven asthma medications—budesonide, an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), and formoterol, a rapid and long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) (5, E, 1). SYMBICORT does not replace fast-acting inhalers and should not be used to treat acute symptoms of asthma (5, F, 5).

Important Safety Information

Long acting beta2-adrenergic agonists may increase the risk of asthma-related death. Therefore, when treating patients with asthma, SYMBICORT should only be used for patients not adequately controlled on other asthma-controller medications (e.g., low-to-medium dose inhaled corticosteroids) or whose disease severity clearly warrants initiation of treatment with two maintenance therapies. Data from a large placebo-controlled U.S. study compared the safety of another long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (salmeterol) or placebo added to usual asthma therapy showed an increase in asthma-related deaths in patients receiving salmeterol. This finding with salmeterol may apply to formoterol (a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist), one of the active ingredients in SYMBICORT (5, G, 1).

SYMBICORT is not indicated for the relief of acute bronchospasm (5, H, 4).

SYMBICORT should not be initiated in patients during rapidly deteriorating or potentially life-threatening episodes of asthma (5, I, 4).

Particular care is needed for patients who are transferred from systemically active corticosteroids. Deaths due to adrenal insufficiency have occurred in asthmatic patients during and after transfer from systemic corticosteroids to less systemically available inhaled corticosteroids. (5, J, 5)

Patients who are receiving SYMBICORT twice daily should not use additional formoterol or other long-acting inhaled beta2-agonists for any reason (5, K, 5).

Common adverse events reported in clinical trials, occurring in > 5 percent of patients, regardless of relationship to treatment, including nasopharyngitis, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, pharyngolaryngeal pain, sinusitis, and stomach discomfort (5, L, 8).

Please see full Prescribing Information and visit www.MySYMBICORT.com.


[1]  In House Data, AstraZeneca, LP. Asthma G.A.P. II Survey. Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of AstraZeneca. September 2008.

[2] National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP). Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma: General Mechanisms and Role in Therapy, 16, 2007. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthsumm.pdf.  Accessed on 3/16/09.

[3]  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthgdln.htm. Accessed on 3/16/09.

[4]  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Asthma. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Asthma/Asthma_Treatments.html.  Accessed on 3/16/09.


[6]  Centers for Disease Control. Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality, 2003-2005. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/ashtma03-05/asthma03-05.htm. Accessed on 3/16/09.

[7]  Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma Facts and Figures. Available at: http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=42. Accessed on 3/16/09.









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