National Survey Reveals Control for Severe Asthmatics is Still Elusive, New Treatment Option Offers Hope
More than 24 million children and adults in the U.S. are living with asthma, one of the most common chronic diseases. While most asthma can be controlled with medication, an estimated 5-10% of the asthma population is considered to have the most severe persistent form of the disease that doesn't respond well to treatment and these people are likely to have more attacks and are more at risk of a fatal attack.
Quality of Life
A national study conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) among severe asthma patients, including focus group and survey research, found that severe asthmatics are still facing serious problems.
Over three quarters of severe asthma patients identified in the AAFA survey report they have been in the emergency department (ED) at least once due to asthma, over a third have made at least 5 ED visits, and 14 percent have been 20 times or more. It’s no surprise that more than two-thirds of severe asthma patients say their quality of life is “worse than normal.”
Beyond the Medicine Cabinet
Despite real advances over the past few decades in medicines, many patients with severe asthma still can’t get their disease under control. Only half of severe asthma respondents in the AAFA survey feel that their current asthma medications are effective and almost two-thirds of respondents say they dislike the cost and 41% say they dislike the side-effects. Over half of severe asthma respondents say they would like to find “a drug-free option” for their asthma.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first device used in a non-drug procedure for adults with severe persistent asthma that is not well controlled with standard medications. The procedure, called bronchial thermoplasty or “BT” is an out-patient procedure done by pulmonologists using thermal energy to reduce excessive smooth muscle in the lungs, decreasing the ability of the airways to constrict and reducing the frequency of asthma attacks. Visit www.BTforAsthma.com to learn more about bronchial thermoplasty.*
About the Survey
AAFA opened an online “Severe Asthma” survey to the public, which included 19 closed-ended multiple choice questions, and 6 open-ended questions. Invitations to complete the survey were sent to 9607 contacts selected from AAFA’s constituent e-mail database. In addition, AAFA posted links to the survey on AAFA’s Web site, several allergy blogs and AAFA’s social networking pages. The survey yielded 756 completed responses (7.9% return rate). The AAFA survey was supported in part by a grant from Asthmatx, a division of Boston Scientific. See the links below for more information.
*Brief Statement of Relevant Indications for Use, Contraindications, Warnings, and Adverse Events:
The Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty System is indicated for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta agonists. The Alair System is not for use in patients with an active implantable electronic device or known sensitivity to medications used in bronchoscopy. Previously treated airways of the lung should not be retreated with the Alair System. Patients should be stable and suitable to undergo bronchoscopy. The most common side effect of bronchial thermoplasty is an expected transient increase in the frequency and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms.