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World Asthma Day

6th May 2008

Two in three people with asthma feel that their condition is in some way preventing them from achieving what they want from life and one third of patients are living in fear of having an attack, according to a new survey released to mark World Asthma Day.

The survey also found that a third of people with asthma worry about the impact asthma will have on their future health. Respondents also indicated that asthma impacts every day  life.  87% of people with asthma report that asthma restricts their ability to take part in physical activities or exercise, and 70% claim that their asthma interrupts their sleep.  The survey was conducted amongst people with asthma in nine countries and launches the Spring into Action campaign, an initiative supported by international family physician organisations the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), and the World Organisation of Family Doctors (Wonca).

The survey highlights various factors which may contribute to these concerns but also point to positive actions that can help improve overall control. Two in three people with asthma who reported being prescribed a controller medication, would not describe their condition as long term or persistent. This short term view of their condition was supported by respondent behaviours in that one in three people with asthma did not take their medication as prescribed, 23% did not want to use too many inhalers, 23% admitted to forgetting to take them and almost half (44%) of people with asthma tended not to use their controller medication when feeling well.  These 'real-world' data suggest that further actions are needed to achieve Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) treatment targets and improve outcomes for patients. As part of these targets, GINA state that people with controlled asthma should not experience limitations in activities or nocturnal symptoms.

"The Spring into Action survey shows that, despite many years of advances, for many patients, asthma still has a great impact on daily life. To be able to prevent future asthma attacks, patients need to accept that the key is to proactively treat asthma on a daily basis with anti-inflammatory controller medication, rather than just reacting to an attack with reliever medication," commented Dr John Haughney, President of IPCRG. "Some of the attitudes this research highlights may ultimately mean patients are unwittingly storing up problems for the future."?

The survey also revealed a poor understanding amongst people with asthma of what actually happens within the lungs to cause asthma symptoms. Only one out of four surveyed correctly identified airway inflammation as an underlying cause. However, those patients who did understand the true causes of their asthma reported significantly (p<0.01) better compliance than patients lacking this knowledge, demonstrating a clear need for improved patient education about asthma.

"These results should act as a red flag to patients and doctors to indicate key discussions that should take place during consultations; patients want to be able to control their asthma and are seemingly starved of the information that will help them do it,"?said Marianella Salapatas, Acting President of patient group organisation the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Disease Patients' Associations (EFA).  "When patients understand the underlying causes of the disease, the data shows a positive impact on compliance.  This can only benefit patients with a reduction of symptoms and attacks, improved asthma control and in turn reduce the impact on patients' lives today and tomorrow."

When asked what advice people with asthma would like to receive from their doctors the survey highlighted a clear need for doctors to provide simple strategies or tips on different triggers that can cause asthma attacks, how to prevent asthma from worsening and what to do in the event of an attack. Patients want to be more informed about how they can proactively control the disease.

Professor Chris van Weel, World President of Wonca said, "Patients reiterated that their family doctor or specialist were the sources of information they found most useful, and so are best placed to help fill gaps in patients' understanding of their disease. Only informed patients can make informed decisions to best control their asthma with their medications, so no-one need fear for their future health.  Wonca works with family doctors to help them and their patients to prioritise preventative strategies rather than only providing reactive care."

The survey is launched on World Asthma Day (WAD), the theme of which is "You can control your asthma" with the aim of spreading the word that asthma control can be achieved by the vast majority of people with asthma through proper management.

As a part of the Spring into Action campaign and prompted by the survey findings, IPCRG and WONCA have developed "top tips" to respond to the needs of both people with asthma and doctors, and help meet the WAD aims.  The hope is that this information can be the first step in delivering much needed education to patients across the world to take control of their asthma and their lives.

The Spring into Action asthma campaign, developed jointly by the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), the World Organisation of Family Doctors (Wonca) and AstraZeneca, surveyed 1,800 asthma patients from UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Korea, Australia, and Brazil. The survey aimed to:

  • Highlight the need for, and contribute to, a better understanding of asthma, its management
  • Motivate physicians to ensure their patients are better informed on how to use their medications effectively to achieve asthma control and minimise the risk of asthma attacks
  • Motivate patients to work with their physicians to achieve better day-to-day symptom control with minimal impairment of daily life

 

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Article Information

Title: World Asthma Day
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 6639
Date Added: 6th May 2008

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