A Mayo Clinic allergist and colleagues representing the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology announce they are revising the old classification of asthma patients by disease severity to determine treatment and moving to a new expectation for all asthma patients: excellent symptom control. Complete or total control is also a realistic goal for a subset of patients, according to new guidelines for treating asthma published in the November issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"People with asthma can expect to control the asthma: not to have the asthma control them," says James Li, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic allergist and lead author of the paper. "It’s all about asthmatics’ quality of life: waking up in the middle of the night wheezing, constantly using rescue medications, having to excuse themselves from sports teams or needing to leave work due to an attack -- that’s no life."
Dr. Li contends this is not just pie-in-the-sky thinking, but that these new goals can align with patients’ disease reality. "It’s definitely not only a goal and an ideal, but most people with asthma can have well or completely controlled asthma," he says. "People with asthma should not be satisfied with less than well or completely controlled asthma. We want to empower patients by letting them know this is the goal. We want them to know if they are not reaching this goal, they should see their doctors."
The authors also assert that with proper symptom assessment and treatment, complete or total control is possible for a significant group of asthmatics.
"While well-controlled asthma is the recommended target for all patients with asthma, complete control may be attainable and appropriate for many patients," says Dr. Li.
Complete or total control of asthma is defined by Dr. Li and colleagues as follows:
Asthma is a chronic condition that occurs when the main air passages of the lungs, the bronchial tubes, become inflamed. The muscles of the bronchial walls tighten and extra mucus is produced, causing the airways to narrow. This can lead to everything from minor wheezing to severe difficulty in breathing. Each year, nearly 500,000 Americans with asthma are hospitalized, and more than 4,000 die from disease-related causes.
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