ASTHMA STUDY SHOWS REGULAR STEROID-INHALER USE CUTS HOSPITAL STAYS

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ASTHMA STUDY SHOWS REGULAR STEROID-INHALER USE CUTS HOSPITAL STAYS

Saskatoon, October 3, 2002:  The first study to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroid use for people who suffer from asthma has just been published in the medical journal, Thorax.

Using the Saskatchewan Health Drug database between the years of 1975-1991 the study followed over 30,000 people with asthma between the ages of 5-44 over a period of 22 years.  They found that about 42 in every 1,000 asthma patients a year were admitted to hospital but regular use of inhaled corticosteroids cut hospital admissions by 31% and cut the rate of readmission by 39%.

This study is significant as asthma is a chronic condition which must be managed over a long-term.  These results emphasize the benefit of taking regular inhaled corticosteroids both early and later on in the course of the disease, states Dr. Donald Cockcroft, Saskatoon respirologist and world renown researcher in asthma whose research is supported by the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

Inhaled corticosteroids are the treatment of choice in the management of asthma, a common disorder whose prevalence is on the rise in Canada and other countries.  People who require a hospital admission to treat asthma are more likely to die from asthma or suffer more serious effects causing readmission to hospital, loss of work, more sick days and emergency room visits.

People hear the word steroids and relate this to serious side effects, states certified asthma educator, Jan Haffner. Inhaled corticosteroids are still the mainstay of asthma treatment and when used properly are safe and very effective.  Because the steroids are inhaled and go directly to the lung, we can use much smaller doses “ about 1/1000 of the dose that would be taken orally “ and so there are far fewer side effects.

Most alarming was that 80-85% of people who were prescribed inhaled steroids did not use them on a regular basis, therefore preventing the full benefit from the medication.  An important part of the Lung Association's patient education programs is to teach people how to use their inhalers properly, says Haffner.

The results of this study also show an economic benefit that can be achieved with better management of asthma in addition to the better health enjoyed by the patient. Inhaled steroids are expensive costing about $80 per month.  However, one hospital visit for asthma typically costs $2500.

Dawn Weber, a Saskatoon mother of a child with asthma states, Taking the control medication (inhaled steroids) on a regular basis has made a world of difference in my son's asthma.  He is extremely active in soccer, he sleeps through the night and we manage to prevent dreaded hospital admissions and emergency visits".

As asthma is a chronic disease, long-term management is critical in maintaining good control of symptoms and quality of life.  Education, environmental control and medications are essential to successful asthma management as stated in the Canadian Asthma Consensus Report.  But a lack of access to comprehensive education for patients with asthma and their families in our province is preventing people from optimizing management, states Cockcroft.

The Lung Association has taken the lead in Saskatchewan to educate the public and to train health professionals to become knowledgeable and skilled educators. Over 100 health professionals in Saskatchewan have successfully completed the Lung Association program and are able to provide asthma education in their communities around the province.   Certified asthma educators manage an Asthma Help-line (1-800-667-LUNG) and the Lung Association's website www.lung.ca is ranked one of the best in the world.

The Lung Association of Saskatchewan is a member of the Canadian Lung Association that has been working for lung health for over 100 years.  The Lung Association is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that relies on donations from the public for its activities.  Please view the Lung Association website at www.sk.lung.ca for a comprehensive account of our research initiatives, community programs, health education services and clean air initiatives or call 1-800-667-LUNG for further information.

 

Contacts:

Jan Haffner, Certified Asthma Educator

Bernie Bolley, Certified Asthma Educator

Vice President of Health Initiatives

Health Initiatives Coordinator

Lung Association of Saskatchewan

Lung Association of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, SK

Saskatoon, SK

(306) 343-9511 or 1-800-667-LUNG

(306) 343-9511 or 1-800-667-LUNG

 

Dr. Donald Cockcroft
Division of Respiratory Medicine
Royal University Hospital
Saskatoon, SK
(306) 966-8274

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Page Last Updated: 07/03/2017