Aggressive New Asthma Tactics
New Asthma Guidelines Would Make Disease Milder, Prevent Severe Attacks
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 29, 2007 - New NIH asthma guidelines promise to make a child's asthma
milder and to prevent severe asthma attacks before they happen.
The guidelines come from a panel of asthma experts convened by the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). They closely follow the 2002 update
of the original 1997 guidelines.
But two major changes represent a fundamental shift in the goals of asthma
treatment, panel chairman William W. Busse, MD, chairman of the department of
medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a news conference.
Those changes: a new focus on reducing asthma severity and a new emphasis on
keeping asthma symptoms under control.
"We firmly believe that asthma control can be achieved in nearly every
patient with asthma," Busse said. "We anticipate, expect, and hope
these new recommendations will pave way to control of asthma, reduction of
risks, and continuing efforts to cure this disease."
NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, expressed similar optimism.
"Asthma affects over 22 million Americans, including 6.5 million
children, but there is one truth: Asthma control is achievable for nearly every
patient," she said at the news conference. "As health care providers,
we should accept nothing less."
What will change from a patient's point of view?
If their primary care doctor is following the new guidelines, asthma
patients can expect a much more thorough evaluation of their disease. Doctors
will no longer be satisfied if they hear a patient is doing well -- they'll use
questionnaires, lung-function tests, and medication checks to see exactly how
well a person is keeping asthma under control.
"If we do this, the impairments from disease will be reduced quite
significantly," Busse said.
Panel member Robert F. Lemanske, MD, professor of pediatrics and medicine at
the University of Wisconsin-Madison, noted that the new guidelines now have
separate recommendations for children aged 0-4 years, 5-11 years, and 12 and
"Preschool kids are much different than kids who enter school -- and
both differ from the adolescent period -- in terms of treatment approaches,
adherence, and so on," Lemanske said at the news conference. "This will
give us a better handle on the different things that can happen to children at