Some adults with mild persistent asthma may be able to adequately control their asthma by taking corticosteroids only when needed, instead of taking anti-inflammatory medication daily, according to new results from the Improving Asthma Control Trial (IMPACT). Conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes (NHLBI) Asthma Clinical Research Network, the one-year, multi-center study found that participants who were treated with corticosteroids intermittently based on symptoms had about the same rate of severe exacerbations and of asthma-related lung function decline as those treated with the standard recommendation of daily long-term control medication.
Asthma is considered mild and persistent when individuals have acute symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness more than twice a week, but not daily, or they have night-time awakenings due to asthma more than two nights a month. The researchers caution that the new findings might not apply to people who have recently developed asthma. In addition, they do not apply to patients with more frequent symptoms or more severe asthma. The results are published in the April 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"This study provides evidence of another possible way to treat adults with long-standing mild persistent asthma," stated Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, director of the NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health. "If additional research confirms these findings, then some of these patients may be able to safely treat their asthma with intermittent medication and avoid the added expense and inconvenience of daily therapy. As for all asthma patients, however, individuals should work closely with their healthcare providers to develop and follow the treatment plan that suits them best."
The data coordinating center is at Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA.
The medications for IMPACT were donated by Astra-Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
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