May 21, 2012

Studying Asthma Risk factors

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Since 1980, asthma in the U.S. has increased by more than 75 percent, and the symptoms can be debilitating. Now a new study shows a number of specific risk factors are associated with an exacerbation-prone phenotype of severe asthma.

"Acute exacerbations are a major source of morbidity and mortality in asthma," Lead author Maciek Kupczyk, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, was quoted as saying. "In children, the costs of asthma care are three times higher in exacerbators as compared to those patients who did not experience any attacks. Exacerbations are a prominent feature of poorly controlled and severe asthma, and even in patients with mild disease, the rates of severe exacerbations are high."

Researchers in Sweeden followed at 93 patients with severe asthma along with 76 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma, for one year. Patients with at least one exacerbation despite high-dose inhaled corticosteroid treatment and specialist care in the year prior to registering for the study were considered to have severe asthma.

"Exacerbations are important events in the natural history of asthma that is not well controlled. The implications of these flare-ups include an increased risk of mortality, low health status, decreased quality of life, and extensive utilization of health care resources," Dr. Kupczyk was quoted as saying.

They found a total of 122 exacerbations, including 104 that occurred in 52 patients with severe asthma and 18 that occurred in 16 patients with moderate asthma. Frequent exacerbations occurred only in the severe asthma group.

"In this study we detail the characteristics of frequent exacerbators' phenotype based on medical history, physiological variables and biomarkers," Dr. Kupczyk was quoted as saying. "The ability to identify patients at greatest risk for future exacerbations is vital for developing effective preventive strategies, reducing health care costs, and achieving good asthma control.

Researchers say further studies are needed to clarify which treatment option is optimal in frequent exacerbations.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, May 2012