Three in four people with asthma are at risk of ‘fatal attacks’

asthmaMore than three quarters of asthma sufferers could be susceptible to having a fatal asthma attack because they incorrectly assume their asthma is under control, according to new research.

A survey conducted by Allergy UK and funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, discovered this finding and many other things to raise alarm bells about the serious lung condition which afflicts around 5.4 million in Britain. Moreover, asthma costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion per year for the treatment and care for asthma patients.

464 participants with asthma were involved in the survey, and 78% who stated their asthma as being mild or moderate go through up to four blue reliever inhalers each month. “In reality they shouldn’t even need to use one per month if their disease is well controlled,” the charity says.

This finding backs up what Medical Specialists® Pharmacy said back in May, how a good proportion of asthmatics and not realising the massive importance of the brown preventer inhalers in building up a long-term resistance to triggers for asthma attacks.

Allergy UK adds that of the respondents who wrongly believe their condition is adequately under control, 16% have had six or more days off from work or school in the past 12 months because of their asthma.

The charity also discovered that up to 60% of asthma attacks are caused by allergens such as animal dander, house dust mites, pollen, mould and foods. Only 37% of those surveyed had been tested for allergies and the charity says that a drive to provide allergy tests could reduce the number of asthma attacks as patients would be more aware of their specific triggers.

Lindsey McManus, the Deputy CEO of Allergy UK, said: “Asthma is a killer, with three people dying of it every day in the UK. These shocking survey results reflect what we hear time and time again from the people that call our helpline. People ‘put up with’ their asthma symptoms and continue to use medication that isn’t treating the inflammation, rather than seeking help to get their asthma under control. They just don’t realise they are putting themselves in danger and could soon find themselves in A&E.”

More than one in five sufferers (22%) involved in the survey had not had an asthma review for at least a year it was discovered.

Ms McManus added: “Our biggest piece of advice is to talk to your doctor or asthma nurse. They will conduct a thorough asthma review and may refer you to a specialist who may conduct an allergy assessment and review your asthma management. This is the only way to ensure that the asthma crisis doesn’t worsen.”

Dr Monica Nordstrom, Respiratory Physician at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust commented: “Doctors, nurses and patients themselves often fail to recognise whether asthma is moderate or severe, leading to life-threatening attacks that could have been avoided with appropriate diagnosis and management.

“There are three warning signs for patients to look out for; if you use more than one reliever inhaler a month; if you’ve been prescribed one or more courses of oral corticosteroids in the past 12 months or if you are consistently missing work or school because of your asthma – these can all be signs that your asthma may be more severe than you think and you should seek more help from your doctor or specialist nurse.”

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