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Most Asthma Out of Control

Despite Treatment, 55% of Sufferers Flunk Asthma Control Test
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 1, 2007 -- Despite treatment and access to health care, more than half of asthma patients can't keep their illness under control.

The finding comes from an Internet survey of 1,812 people with moderate-to-severe asthma. Each patient filled out a five-item questionnaire that assessed the degree to which their asthma disrupted their lives over the past four weeks.

More than half of the respondents -- 55% -- said that in the last month:

  • Their asthma kept them from getting as much done as they wanted at least some of the time.
  • They had shortness of breath at least 3 to 6 times a week.
  • Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or chest pain disrupted their sleep once a week or more.
  • They used their rescue inhaler at 2 or more times a week.
  • They rated their asthma control as no better than "somewhat controlled."

"Even more shocking was the finding that 38% of controlled asthmatics and 54% of uncontrolled asthmatics reported having had an asthma attack during which they feared for their lives," Stephen P. Peters, MD, PhD, of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, says in a news release.

Peters and colleagues report the findings in the June issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Peters warns that doctors -- primary care physicians as well as pulmonary specialists -- must be aware that many of their patients aren't succeeding in keeping their asthma under control.

And patients, he says, should sit down with their doctors to make -- and update -- personalized asthma control plans.

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