THE NUMBER of serious asthma attacks can be reduced by temporarily quadrupling the dose of inhaled steroids during severe episodes of asthma, according to research from the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. The study could enhance the effectiveness of treatment for patients with the condition, which affects around 300 million people globally.
In a large trial, nearly 2,000 asthma patients were randomised into two asthma self-management plans; over a 12-month period, half were assigned to the plan that involved quadrupling inhaled steroid doses during times of worsening asthma and the other half were put on the current standard self-care plan. The results demonstrated that temporarily quadrupling the dose led to significantly better outcomes, with a 20% reduction in severe asthma attacks in patients following this plan compared with those on the usual care plan. Additionally, there were far fewer asthma-related hospital admissions in the quadrupling group compared to the usual care group (3 versus 18, respectively).
“Our study shows that patients can reduce the risk of a severe asthma attack by following a self-management plan which includes a temporary four-fold increase in their preventer medication when their asthma is deteriorating. This means less need for oral steroids such as prednisolone, less admissions to hospital with severe asthma, and hopefully fewer deaths from asthma,” commented Prof Tim Harrison, University of Nottingham.
Improved Quality of Life
The findings have the potential to improve the lives of asthma patients by preventing the number of acute episodes they experience; these events can cause ill health, death, and lead to significant costs to the health service. In addition, patients suffering from serious asthma attacks are often admitted to hospital where they are given treatments including oxygen, nebulised bronchodilators, and high dose steroids that sometimes have adverse side effects, so reducing the number of cases that lead to hospitalisation is important also.
A previous study showed that the frequency of serious asthma attacks was not reduced by doubling the dose of inhaled steroids.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.