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1.  Asthma in adults 
Clinical Evidence  2010;2010:1501.
Introduction
About 10% of adults have suffered an attack of asthma, and up to 5% of these have severe disease that responds poorly to treatment. Patients with severe disease have an increased risk of death, but patients with mild-to-moderate disease are also at risk of exacerbations. Most guidelines about the management of asthma follow stepwise protocols. This review does not endorse or follow any particular protocol, but presents the evidence about specific interventions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatments for chronic asthma? What are the effects of treatments for acute asthma? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2008 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 99 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions. For acute asthma: beta2 agonists (plus ipratropium bromide, pressured metered-dose inhalers, short-acting continuous nebulised, short-acting intermittent nebulised, and short-acting intravenous); corticosteroids (inhaled); corticosteroids (single oral, combined inhaled, and short courses); education about acute asthma; generalist care; helium-oxygen mixture (heliox); magnesium sulphate (intravenous and adding isotonic nebulised magnesium to inhaled beta2 agonists); mechanical ventilation; oxygen supplementation (controlled 28% oxygen and controlled 100% oxygen); and specialist care. For chronic asthma: beta2 agonists (adding long-acting inhaled beta2 agonists when asthma is poorly controlled by inhaled corticosteroids, or short-acting inhaled beta2 agonists as needed for symptom relief); inhaled corticosteroids (low dose and increasing dose); leukotriene antagonists (with or without inhaled corticosteroids); and theophylline (when poorly controlled by inhaled corticosteroids).
Key Points
About 10% of adults have suffered an attack of asthma, and up to 5% of these have severe disease that responds poorly to treatment. These people have an increased risk of death.
Most guidelines about the management of asthma follow stepwise protocols. This review does not endorse or follow any particular protocol, but presents the evidence about specific interventions.
Taking short-acting beta2 agonists as needed is as likely to relieve symptoms and improve lung function as a regular dosing schedule in adults with chronic asthma.
Adding long-acting beta2 agonists to inhaled corticosteroids decreases the number of exacerbations and improves symptoms, lung function, and quality of life in people with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma that is poorly controlled with corticosteroids.
CAUTION: Long-acting beta2 agonists have been associated with increased asthma-related mortality, and should always be used with inhaled corticosteroids.
Low-dose inhaled corticosteroids improve symptoms and lung function in persistent asthma compared with placebo or regular inhaled beta2 agonists. Leukotriene antagonists are more effective than placebo at reducing symptoms, but we don't know if adding leukotriene antagonists to inhaled corticosteroids is of benefit in people with chronic asthma.CAUTION: Leukotriene antagonists have been associated with a possible increased risk of neuropsychiatric events.Adding theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids may improve lung function in people with mild or moderate chronic asthma that is poorly controlled with inhaled corticosteroids, but we don't know if they are of benefit compared with long-acting beta2 agonists or leukotriene antagonists.
In people with an acute attack of asthma, supplementation of beta2 agonists with 28% oxygen, systemic corticosteroids (short courses), additional beta2 agonists (various routes of administration), or ipratropium bromide improve symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids seem to improve lung function in people with acute asthma. However, we don't know whether inhaled corticosteroids are as effective as systemic corticosteroids at improving symptom severity, lung function, and hospital admissions. Inhaled plus oral corticosteroids and oral corticosteroids alone may have similar effects in preventing relapse and improving lung function.Beta2 agonists delivered from a metered-dose inhaler using a spacer are as effective at improving lung function as those given by a nebuliser or given intravenously. Giving beta2 agonists intravenously is more invasive than giving beta2 agonists by nebuliser.In people with severe acute asthma, continuous nebulised short-acting beta2 agonists may also improve lung function more than intermittent nebulised short-acting beta2 agonists.We don't know if intravenous magnesium sulphate, nebulised magnesium alone, or adding nebulised magnesium to inhaled beta2 agonists improves lung function in people with acute asthma.We don't know whether helium-oxygen mixture (heliox) is more effective at improving lung function compared with usual care. Mechanical ventilation may be life saving in severe acute asthma, but it is associated with high levels of morbidity. Specialist care of acute asthma may lead to improved outcomes compared with generalist care.We don't know whether education to help self-manage asthma improves symptom severity, lung function, or quality of life, but it may reduce hospital admissions.
PMCID: PMC2907598  PMID: 21718577
2.  Sex differences in the use of asthma drugs: cross sectional study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7170):1434-1437.
Objectives
To assess the use of asthma drugs by men and women with asthma and to identify sex specific predictors for the use of oral steroids.
Design
Cross sectional study.
Setting
Six general practices in East Anglia.
Subjects
103 men and 134 women aged 20-54 with asthma.
Main outcome measures
Self reported use of β agonists, inhaled steroids, and oral steroids.
Results
No sex difference was found in use of β agonists or inhaled steroids. However a strong association existed between sex and oral steroid use. 40 (30%) women reported using oral steroids compared with nine (9%) men. Women were more than five times (odds ratio=5.5, 95% confidence interval 2.2 to 13.7) more likely to report use of oral steroids than men after asthma symptoms, age, visits to the general practitioner in previous six months, and time since diagnosis of asthma were controlled for. Women who had visited the general practitioner for asthma one or more times in the previous six months were four times (3.9, 1.6 to 9.5) as likely to report use of oral steroids. In addition, more frequent visits to the general practitioner for asthma were related in a dose-response manner to a greater likelihood of using oral steroids among women after asthma symptoms, age, and time since diagnosis were controlled for. This relation was not observed among men.
Conclusion
Women used oral steroids more than men. The more frequent consultations with a doctor by women may result in more requests for oral steroids or doctors may preferentially prescribe oral steroids to women.
Key messagesWomen tend to take more prescription drugs than menIn this study men and women reported similar use of β agonists and inhaled steroids for asthma but women used significantly more oral steroidsWomen who had visited their general practitioner for asthma in the past six months were four times more likely to take oral steroids than those who had not visitedA dose-response relation was found between number of visits to the general practitioner and use of oral steroidsWomen may be making more requests for steroids or doctors may be preferentially prescribing them to women
PMCID: PMC28725  PMID: 9822401
3.  Relationship between recent short-acting β-agonist use and subsequent asthma exacerbations 
Background
US national guidelines recommend assessing short-acting β-agonist (SABA) medication use as a marker of asthma severity and control. However, the relationship between recent SABA use and asthma exacerbations is not currently known.
Objective
To evaluate the proximal relationship between the type and frequency of SABA use and asthma-related outcomes.
Methods
We evaluated SABA use among patients with asthma ages 5 to 56 years who were members of a large health maintenance organization in southeast Michigan. Frequency of use was estimated from pharmacy data assessing the timing and amount of SABA fills. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the prospective relationship between average daily SABA use for 3 months and outcomes associated with poor asthma control (ie, oral corticosteroids use, asthma-related emergency department visits, and asthma-related hospitalizations). We separately accounted for SABA metered-dose inhaler (MDI) and SABA nebulizer use.
Results
Of the 2,056 patients who met study criteria, 1,569 (76.3%) had used a SABA medication in their baseline year. After adjusting for potential confounders, SABA nebulizer use was associated with asthma-related emergency department visits (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 6.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.38 to 16.80) and asthma-related hospitalizations (aHR, 21.62; 95% CI, 3.17 to 147.57). In contrast, frequency of SABA MDI use was not associated with these outcomes.
Conclusions
Frequency of SABA use during a 3-month period was associated with poor asthma outcomes. The relationship with poor asthma outcomes was strongest for SABA nebulizer use, suggesting that the type of SABA used is also of prognostic importance.
PMCID: PMC2646829  PMID: 19055201
4.  379 Adverse Drug Reactions to Anti-asthmatics in Patients with Bronchial Asthma 
Background
The number of self-reported adverse drug reactions (ADRs) has been rapidly increased with the active pharmacovigilance activities in Korea. However, there has been few data on ADRs to anti-asthmatics in Korea. This study was conducted to investigate the clinical characteristics of ADRs to anti-asthmatics in adult patients with bronchial asthma.
Methods
ADRs to anti-asthmatics reported to Regional Pharmacovigilance Center of Inha University Hospital by 2 physicians were collected from January 2011 to April 2011. Causality assessment of adverse events was performed by using WHO-UMC criteria and Naranjo's probability scale. Clinical information was additionally collected from electronic medical records.
Results
Twenty five ADRs to anti-asthmatics were reported in 19 (male 5, female 14) out of 228 patients with asthma. The most common offending anti-asthmatics were inhaled glucocorticoids combined with inhaled long-acting beta agonist (LABA) (12 of 19 subjects, 63.2%), theobromine (10.5%), oral LABA (10.5%), doxofylline (5.3%), acetylcysteine (5.3%), and montelukast (5.3%). Severity of ADRs was mild in most patients (13 of 19, 68.5%), and no severe ADR was detected. By frequency, oral LABA was the commonest drug associated with ADRs (2 in 17 prescription, 11.8%). ADR frequency was not different according to asthma control status. But ADRs to simultaneously prescribed drugs were more frequently detected in patients with combined upper airway diseases (ADRs to antihistamines) or patients with combined infection (ADRs to anti-infective drugs, mucolytics, oral LABA, or to SABA), or older patients with asthma.
Conclusions
Although the severity is usually mild, ADRs are relatively common in patients with bronchial asthma. Physician should monitor ADRs to anti-asthmatics or related drugs in patients with asthma, especially in older patients or in patients with multiple drug treatment for combined conditions.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000412142.81425.50
PMCID: PMC3512811
5.  Asthma in adults (acute) 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1513.
Introduction
About 10% of adults have suffered an attack of asthma, and up to 5% of these have severe disease that responds poorly to treatment. Patients with severe disease have an increased risk of death, but patients with mild to moderate disease are also at risk of exacerbations. Most guidelines about the management of asthma follow stepwise protocols. This review does not endorse or follow any particular protocol, but presents the evidence about specific interventions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of treatments for acute asthma? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to April 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 100 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: beta2 agonists (plus ipratropium bromide, pressured metered-dose inhalers, short-acting continuous nebulised, short-acting intermittent nebulised, short-acting iv, and inhaled formoterol); corticosteroids (inhaled); corticosteroids (single oral, combined inhaled, and short courses); education about acute asthma; generalist care; helium–oxygen mixture (heliox); magnesium sulphate (iv and adding isotonic nebulised magnesium to inhaled beta2 agonists); mechanical ventilation; oxygen supplementation (controlled 28% oxygen and controlled 100% oxygen); and specialist care.
Key Points
About 10% of adults have suffered an attack of asthma, and up to 5% of these have severe disease that responds poorly to treatment. These people have an increased risk of death.
Most guidelines about the management of asthma follow stepwise protocols. This review does not endorse or follow any particular protocol, but presents the evidence about specific interventions.
Inhaled short-acting beta2 agonists are considered the mainstay of treatment for acute asthma.
In people with an acute attack of asthma, supplementation of beta2 agonists with low oxygen concentrations, systemic corticosteroids (short courses), additional beta2 agonists (various routes of administration), or ipratropium bromide improves symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids seem to improve lung function in people with acute asthma. However, we don't know whether inhaled corticosteroids are as effective as systemic corticosteroids at improving symptom severity, lung function, and hospital admissions. Inhaled plus oral corticosteroids and oral corticosteroids alone may have similar effects in preventing relapse.Beta2 agonists delivered from a metered-dose inhaler using a spacer are as effective at improving lung function as those given by a nebuliser or given iv. Giving beta2 agonists iv is more invasive than giving beta2 agonists by nebuliser.In people with severe acute asthma, continuous nebulised short-acting beta2 agonists may also improve lung function more than intermittent nebulised short-acting beta2 agonists.The inhaled long-acting beta2 agonist formoterol seems to be at least equivalent to the short-acting beta2 agonists salbutamol and terbutaline in terms of pulmonary function in moderate to severe acute asthma treatment. On the basis of research undertaken in people with chronic asthma, the FDA has recommended minimising the use of long-acting beta agonists because of an increased risk of asthma exacerbations, hospital admissions, and death. The FDA acknowledges that they do have an important role in helping some patients control asthma symptoms.We don't know if iv magnesium sulphate, nebulised magnesium alone, or adding nebulised magnesium to inhaled beta2 agonists improves lung function in people with acute asthma.We don't know whether helium–oxygen mixture (heliox) is more effective at improving lung function compared with usual care.Mechanical ventilation may be life saving in severe acute asthma, but it is associated with high levels of morbidity. Specialist care of acute asthma may lead to improved outcomes compared with generalist care.We don't know whether education to help self-manage asthma improves symptom severity, lung function, or quality of life, but it may reduce hospital admissions.
PMCID: PMC3661228  PMID: 21463536
6.  Self-Management of Acute Asthma among Low-Income Urban Adults 
One approach to address asthma disparities has been to create evidence-based guidelines to standardize asthma care and education. However, the adoption of these recommendations has been suboptimal among many providers. As a result, low-income minority patients may not be receiving adequate instruction in asthma self-management. In addition, these patients may fail to follow guideline-based recommendations. We conducted 25 interviews to identify the extent to which urban low-income adults have received training in, and implement, self-management protocols for acute asthma. Twenty-five adults (92% female; 76% African American; mean age 39) were enrolled. Only one subject had received asthma self-management training and only 10 (40%) used short-acting beta-2 agonist-based (SABA) self-management protocols for the early treatment of acute asthma. No subject used a peak flow meter or an asthma action plan. Most (52%) chose to initially treat acute asthma with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) despite the availability of SABAs. Importantly, 21 (84%) preferred an integrated approach using both conventional and CAM treatments. Four themes associated with acute asthma self-management emerged from the qualitative analysis. The first theme safety reflected subjects’ perception that CAM was safer than SABA. Severity addressed the calculation that subjects made in determining if SABA or CAM was indicated based on the degree of symptoms they were experiencing. The third theme speed and strength of the combination described subjects’ belief in the superiority of integrating CAM and SABA for acute asthma self-management. The final themesense of identity spoke to the ability of CAM to provide a customized self-management strategy that subjects desired. It is unclear if subjects’ greater use of CAM or delays in using SABA-based self-management protocols were functions of inadequate instruction or personal preference. Regardless, delays in, or under use of, conventional self-management protocols may increase the risk for an untoward outcome. To that end, all patents’ acute asthma self-management strategies should be evaluated for their timeliness and appropriateness. This would be of particular importance for vulnerable populations who bear a disproportionate burden of the disease and who have the fewest resources.
doi:10.1080/02770900903029788
PMCID: PMC2751633  PMID: 19657906
acute asthma; self-management; complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); minority; health disparities; qualitative
7.  Asthma in adults (chronic) 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1512.
Introduction
About 10% of adults have suffered an attack of asthma, and up to 5% of these have severe disease that responds poorly to treatment. Patients with severe disease have an increased risk of death, but patients with mild-to-moderate disease are also at risk of exacerbations. Most guidelines about the management of asthma follow stepwise protocols. This review does not endorse or follow any particular protocol, but presents the evidence about specific interventions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of treatments for chronic asthma? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to April 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 54 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adding anti-IgE treatment; beta2 agonists (adding long-acting inhaled beta2 agonists when asthma is poorly controlled by inhaled corticosteroids, or short-acting inhaled beta2 agonists as needed for symptom relief); inhaled corticosteroids (low dose and increasing dose); leukotriene antagonists (with or without inhaled corticosteroids); and theophylline (when poorly controlled by inhaled corticosteroids).
Key Points
About 10% of adults have suffered an attack of asthma, and up to 5% of these have severe disease that responds poorly to treatment. These people have an increased risk of death.
Most guidelines about the management of asthma follow stepwise protocols. This review does not endorse or follow any particular protocol, but presents the evidence about specific interventions.
Taking short-acting beta2 agonists as needed is as likely to relieve symptoms and improve lung function as a regular dosing schedule in adults with chronic asthma.
Adding long-acting beta2 agonists to inhaled corticosteroids decreases the number of exacerbations and improves symptoms, lung function, and quality of life in people with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma that is poorly controlled with corticosteroids.
CAUTION: Long-acting beta2 agonists have been associated with increased asthma-related mortality, and should always be used with inhaled corticosteroids.
Low-dose inhaled corticosteroids improve symptoms and lung function in persistent asthma compared with placebo or regular inhaled beta2 agonists. Leukotriene antagonists are more effective than placebo at reducing symptoms, but we don't know if adding leukotriene antagonists to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids is of benefit in people with chronic asthma.CAUTION: Leukotriene antagonists have been associated with a possible increased risk of neuropsychiatric events.Adding theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids may improve lung function in people with mild or moderate chronic asthma that is poorly controlled with inhaled corticosteroids, but we don't know if they are of benefit compared with long-acting beta2 agonists or leukotriene antagonists. Anti-IgE treatment (omalizumab) as an adjunct to treatment with inhaled and oral corticosteroids improves symptom severity, decreases exacerbation frequency, and may decrease hospital admission rates in people with chronic moderate to severe asthma.
PMCID: PMC3275169  PMID: 21749735
8.  Evaluation of Inhaler Techniques Among Asthma Patients Seen in Nigeria: An Observational Cross Sectional Study 
Background:
An Adequate and an effective dose of inhalation drugs can be administered only if the correct inhaler-specific technique is followed by asthma patients. There is paucity of data on this subject among Nigerians and Africans.
Aims:
This observational study was to assess the inhaler techniques among asthma patients in Nigeria and also to identify the factors related to an inaccurate or poor inhaler use.
Subjects and Methods:
Consenting asthma patients on inhalers, who attended medical out-patients clinic, of two university hospitals in Nigeria were asked to use their inhalers while an inhaler-administration checklist was used to assess each patients inhaler technique. Information on demographics, asthma symptoms history and history of technique education were obtained. Data was analyzed using standard statistical methods.
Results:
A total of 140 asthma patients participated out of which 75 were females. All the patients used pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDI) type; 51 of them used dry powder inhalers (DPI) in addition. For pMDI, 22.1% (31/140) completed all required steps while 37.3% (19/51) did so for DPI (P = 0.04). Patients with higher educational qualification (P < 0.01) and those with less frequent asthma symptoms (P < 0.01) are more likely to use the pMDI inhalers more accurately while patients who have been taught previously by a Doctor were more likely to use the DPI better.
Conclusion:
Majority of asthma patients use their inhalers inaccurately. Patient-dependent factors were identified as the cause of incorrect technique of inhaler use. Asthma patients on inhalation medications should have routine assessment of their inhaler technique at every visit and corrected if found to be poor.
doi:10.4103/2141-9248.126617
PMCID: PMC3952300  PMID: 24669334
Asthma; Dry powder inhalers; Inhaler-administration checklist; Inhaler technique; Pressurized metered dose inhaler
9.  Clustered randomised trial of an intervention to improve the management of asthma: Greenwich asthma study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7193):1251-1255.
Objectives
To evaluate the effectiveness of an asthma resource centre in improving treatment and quality of life for asthmatic patients.
Design
Community based randomised controlled trial.
Setting
41 general practices in Greenwich with a practice nurse.
Subjects
All registered patients aged 15-50 years.
Intervention
Nurse specialists in asthma who educated and supported practice nurses, who in turn educated patients in the management of asthma according to the British Thoracic Society's guidelines.
Main outcome measures
Quality of life of asthmatic patients, attendance at accident and emergency departments, admissions to local hospitals, and steroid prescribing by general practitioners.
Results
Of 24 400 patients randomly selected and surveyed in 1993, 12 238 replied; 1621 were asthmatic of whom 1291 were sent a repeat questionnaire in 1996 and 780 replied. Of 24 400 patients newly surveyed in 1996, 10 783 (1616 asthmatic) replied. No evidence was found for an improvement in asthma related quality of life among newly surveyed patients in intervention practices compared with control practices. Neither was there evidence of an improvement in other measures of the quality of asthma care. Weak evidence was found for an improvement in quality of life in intervention practices among asthmatics registered with study practices in 1993 and followed up in 1996. Neither attendances at accident and emergency departments nor admissions for asthma showed any tendency to diverge in intervention and control practices over the study period. Steroid prescribing rates rose steadily during the study period. The average annual increase in steroid prescribing was 3% per year higher in intervention than control practices (95% confidence interval −1% to 6%, P=0.10).
Conclusions
This model of service delivery is not effective in improving the outcome of asthma in the community. Further development is required if cost effective management of asthma is to be introduced.
Key messagesSmall randomised trials suggest that implementation of management guidelines can improve outcomes for asthmatic patients treated in specialist unitsRandomised trials also suggest that guidelines can improve the process of care in general practiceAn intervention in which specialist nurses trained and supported practice nurses in running asthma clinics on the basis of British Thoracic Society guidelines failed to improve asthma outcomes for patients over a 3 year periodFactors that may have reduced the potential impact of the measures include the large number of asthmatic patients that need to be cared for in primary care, and the high turnover of practice nurses in inner city areasFurther research is required on how best to implement good practice in inner city areas if cost effective interventions are to be devised
PMCID: PMC27864  PMID: 10231256
10.  Appropriate prescribing in asthma and its related cost in east London. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1995;310(6972):97-100.
OBJECTIVES--To determine the patterns of preventive to reactive prescribing for asthma among general practices in the City and East London Family Health Services Authority area and their relation to prescribing cost. DESIGN--Descriptive study of asthma prescribing during April 1992 to March 1993. Prescribing data were linked with general practice and population data on one database. SETTING--City and East London Family Health Services Authority area, including all general practices in contract with the authority, which covers the inner city London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, and Newham and the Corporation of the City of London. SUBJECTS--All 163 general practices as at 1 June 1993. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Ratios of prescribed inhaled corticosteroids plus cromoglycates (prophylactic treatment) to bronchodilators; distribution of the cost of asthma prescribing; distribution of overall generic prescribing; proportion of asthma generic prescribing; distribution of cost of overall drugs prescribed per prescribing unit. RESULTS--Practices approved for band 3 health promotion or asthma surveillance and those with a general practitioner trainer had on average higher ratios of prophylactic to bronchodilator treatment and significantly higher asthma drug costs than other practices. Those practices with high levels of overall generic prescribing had significantly higher prophylactic to bronchodilator ratios than those with lower levels of generic prescribing. Practices with higher levels of asthma drug generic prescribing also had significantly higher prophylactic prescribing. However, the proportion of generically prescribed asthma drugs was lower than overall generic prescribing. There was no correlation between the ratio of prophylactic to bronchodilator asthma prescribing and the proportion of overall drugs expenditure, but high spending practices spent significantly more on asthma drugs. CONCLUSIONS--Pressure to reduce the cost of asthma prescribing may lead to a lowering of the ratio of prophylactic to bronchodilator treatments. However, reducing prophylactic prescribing would run contrary to the British Thoracic Society guidelines and might worsen the quality of asthma care.
PMCID: PMC2548501  PMID: 7833736
11.  Which patients are prescribed inhaled anti-asthma drugs? 
Thorax  1994;49(11):1090-1095.
BACKGROUND--Prescribing rates for inhaled anti-asthmatic drugs in the UK vary considerably from area to area and between individual practices. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of patients prescribed inhaled steroids and beta agonist bronchodilators, the indications for these prescriptions, and to relate prescribing to the recorded levels of morbidity for specific respiratory disease. METHODS--Anonymised patient-specific prescription and diagnostic data were extracted from computerised general practice records for the 41 practices in the Northern region (total population 330,749) whose data had been validated for inclusion in a research databank. Patients were included if they were either prescribed an inhaled steroid or bronchodilator during a 12 month period, or had a recorded diagnosis of asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Prescribing of inhalers per 1000 population was determined within age, sex, and diagnostic groups. Respiratory diagnosis rates within different patient groups were used to measure the underlying level of morbidity in the population. RESULTS--Inhaled anti-asthma drugs were prescribed for 5% of the study population. Prescribing prevalences peaked at ages 5-14 (steroids 40 per 1000 population; bronchodilators 68 per 1000) and at ages 65-74 (steroids 53 per 1000; bronchodilators 79 per 1000). Prescribing frequency for both drugs increased from two or three items per patient annually at age 0-14 to about six in the over 65 age group. Of the 39,424 respiratory patients 38% received inhalers and 7% only non-inhaler medication. Inhaler therapy was used in only 6% of patients with bronchitis, but in 66% of those with asthma, though the proportions varied with patient age and gender. Study practices differed in their overall levels of both inhaler prescribing and respiratory diagnosis, and had lower prescribing patterns of these drugs than other practices in the Northern region. CONCLUSIONS--Inhaled steroid and bronchodilator prescribing have age-related and gender-related prevalences. Treatment for respiratory diagnoses varies with patient age and gender, and with the diagnosis. Prescribing differences between practices are attributable to variation in both diagnostic rates for respiratory disease and therapeutic intervention patterns. For asthma patients study practices show consensus in approach, perhaps illustrating the value of clear guidelines for asthma prescribing.
Images
PMCID: PMC475267  PMID: 7831622
12.  Guidelines for the emergency management of asthma in adults. CAEP/CTS Asthma Advisory Committee. Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians and the Canadian Thoracic Society. 
OBJECTIVE: To develop a set of comprehensive, standardized evidence-based guidelines for the assessment and treatment of acute asthma in adults in the emergency setting. OPTIONS: The use of medications was evaluated by class, dose, route, onset of action and optimal mode of delivery. The use of objective measurements and clinical features to assess response to therapy were evaluated in relation to the decision to admit or discharge the patient or arrange for follow-up care. OUTCOMES: Control of symptoms and disease reflected in hospital admission rates, frequency of treatment failures following discharge, resolution of symptoms and improvement of spirometric test results. EVIDENCE: Previous guidelines, articles retrieved through a search of MEDLINE, emergency medical abstracts and information from members of the expert panel were reviewed by members of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) and the Canadian Thoracic Society. Where evidence was not available, consensus was reached by the expert panel. The resulting guidelines were reviewed by members of the parent organizations. VALUES: The evidence-based methods and values of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination were used. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: As many as 80% of the approximate 400 deaths from asthma each year in Canada are felt to be preventable. The use of guidelines, aggressive emergency management and consistent use of available options at discharge are expected to decrease the rates of unnecessary hospital admissions and return visits to emergency departments because of treatment failures. Substantial decreases in costs are expected from the use of less expensive drugs, or drug delivery systems, fewer hospital admissions and earlier return to full activity after discharge. RECOMMENDATIONS: Beta2-agonists are the first-line therapy for the management of acute asthma in the emergency department (grade A recommendation). Bronchodilators should be administered by the inhaled route and titrated using objective and clinical measures of airflow limitation (grade A). Metered-dose inhalers are preferred to wet nebulizers, and a chamber (spacer device) is recommended for severe asthma (grade A). Anticholinergic therapy should be added to beta 2 agonist therapy in severe and life-threatening cases and may be considered in cases of mild to moderate asthma (grade A). Aminophylline is not recommended for use in the first 4 hours of therapy (grade A). Ketamine and succinylcholine are recommended for rapid sequence intubation in life-threatening cases (grade B). Adrenaline (administered subcutaneously or intravenously), salbutamol (administered intravenously) and anesthetics (inhaled) are recommended as alternatives to conventional therapy in unresponsive life-threatening cases (grade B). Severity of airflow limitation should be determined according to the forced expiratory volume at 1 second or the peak expiratory flow rate, or both, before and after treatment and at discharge (grade A). Consideration for discharge should be based on both spirometric test results and assessment of clinical risk factors for relapse (grade A). All patients should be considered candidates for systemic corticosteroid therapy at discharge (grade A). Those requiring corticosteroid therapy should be given 30 to 60 mg of prednisone orally (or equivalent) per day for 7 to 14 days; no tapering is required (grade A). Inhaled corticosteroids are an integral component of therapy and should be prescribed for all patients receiving oral corticosteroid therapy at discharge (grade A). Patients should be given a discharge treatment plan and clear instructions for follow-up care (grade C). VALIDATION: The guidelines share the same principles of those from the British Thoracic Society and the National Institutes of Health. Two specific validation initiatives have been undertaken: (a) several Canadian centres have been involved in the collection of comprehensive administrative data to assess compliance and outcome measures and (b) a survey of Canadian emergency physicians conducted to gather baseline informaton of treatment patterns, was conducted before development of the guidelines and will be repeated to re-evaluate emergency management of asthma.
PMCID: PMC1487869  PMID: 8673983
13.  Prescription pattern and prevalence of potentially inappropriate medications among elderly patients in a Nigerian rural tertiary hospital 
Introduction
Polypharmacy and inappropriate prescriptions are prominent prescribing issues with elderly patients. Beers criteria and other guidelines have been developed to assist in the reduction of potentially inappropriate medications prescribed to elderly patients. The objectives of this study were to assess the prescribing pattern for elderly Nigerian outpatients and estimate the prevalence of potentially inappropriate medications among them using the Beers criteria.
Methodology
This was a prospective cross-sectional study of elderly patients (65 years and above) who were attending the general outpatients clinic of a rural Nigerian hospital. For the drug utilization aspect of the study, drug-use indicators were assessed using established World Health Organization guidelines, while the Beers criteria was used to screen for potentially inappropriate medications.
Result
The medical records of 220 patients aged 65 years and above were utilized for the study. A total of 837 drugs were prescribed for the patients, giving an average of 3.8 ± 1.3 drugs per person. Antihypertensive drugs accounted for 30.6% of the prescriptions, followed by multivitamins/food supplements (11.5%) and analgesics (10.8%). A review of the prescribed medications using the 2012 Updated Beers Criteria by the American Geriatric Society identified 56 patients with at least one potentially inappropriate medication prescribed giving a rate of 25.5%. The drug groups identified were nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, and amitriptyline.
Conclusion
Polypharmacy and prescription of potentially inappropriate medications are major therapeutic issues in Nigeria. There is a need for prescriber training and retraining with emphasis on the geriatric population.
doi:10.2147/TCRM.S40120
PMCID: PMC3601648  PMID: 23516122
drug utilization pattern; elderly patients; rational use of medicines; adverse drug reactions; Beers criteria
14.  Quality of asthma management in an urban community in Delhi, India 
Background & objectives:
High prevalence and poor control of asthma make its management a major public health issue worldwide, especially in developing countries. Optimum review of asthma management in the community is essential to improve asthma control. This study was conducted to investigate the quality of asthma management, knowledge about asthma and quality of life of asthma patients referred to a public tertiary care chest hospital in Delhi.
Methods:
Diagnosis of asthma was confirmed by symptoms and reversible spirometry in 50 referred patients on their first visit. Patients were interviewed using three questionnaires on quality of asthma management before visiting referral hospital, asthma knowledge and asthma quality of life (AQLQ). Correlation amongst quality of treatment, asthma quality of life, and asthma knowledge was also determined.
Results:
Findings revealed that only 60 per cent of patients were informed about their disease, and 10 per cent had undergone lung function tests previously. Only 44 per cent of patients were prescribed inhalers. None were provided with any educational material. Patients had poor knowledge of aetiology, pathophysiology, medication and how to assess the severity of their asthma. The mean scores in AQLQ indicated a moderate degree of impairment in quality of life.
Interpretations & conclusions:
This study provides evidence of unsatisfactory asthma management and patient-doctor interaction as patients had limited knowledge of asthma disease, its management and had poor quality of life as measured by a standardized questionnaire. Thus, there is need to implement suitable interventions to improve asthma management according to standard treatment guidelines in the community.
PMCID: PMC3336849  PMID: 22446860
Asthma; asthma knowledge; asthma management; India; quality of life
15.  Asthma and other recurrent wheezing disorders in children (chronic) 
Clinical Evidence  2012;2012:0302.
Introduction
Childhood asthma is the most common chronic paediatric illness. There is no cure for asthma but good treatment to palliate symptoms is available. Asthma is more common in children with a personal or family history of atopy, increased severity and frequency of wheezing episodes, and presence of variable airway obstruction or bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Precipitating factors for symptoms and acute episodes include infection, house dust mites, allergens from pet animals, exposure to tobacco smoke, and exercise.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of single-agent prophylaxis in children taking as-needed inhaled beta2 agonists for asthma? What are the effects of additional prophylactic treatments in childhood asthma inadequately controlled by standard-dose inhaled corticosteroids? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 48 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: beta2 agonists (long-acting), corticosteroids (inhaled standard or higher doses), leukotriene receptor antagonists (oral), omalizumab, and theophylline (oral).
Key Points
Childhood asthma can be difficult to distinguish from viral wheeze and can affect up to 20% of children.
Regular monotherapy with inhaled corticosteroids improves symptoms, reduces exacerbations, and improves physiological outcomes in children with asthma symptoms requiring regular short-acting beta2 agonist treatment. Their effect on final adult height is minimal and when prescribed within recommended doses have an excellent safety record. Regular monotherapy with other treatments is not superior to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids.
Leukotriene receptor antagonists may have a role as first-line prophylaxis in very young children.
There is consensus that long-acting beta2 agonists should not be used for first-line prophylaxis. CAUTION: Monotherapy with long-acting beta2 agonists does not reduce asthma exacerbations but may increase the chance of severe asthma episodes.
Theophylline was used as first-line prevention before the introduction of inhaled corticosteroids. Although there is weak evidence that theophylline is superior to placebo, theophylline should no longer be used as first-line prophylaxis in childhood asthma because of clear evidence of the efficacy and safety of inhaled corticosteroids. Theophylline has serious adverse effects (cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions) if therapeutic blood concentrations are exceeded.
When low-dose inhaled corticosteroids fail to control asthma, most older children will respond to one of the add-on options available, which include addition of long-acting beta2 agonists, addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists, addition of theophylline, or increased dose of inhaled corticosteroid. However, we don't know for certain how effective these additional treatments are because we found no/limited RCT evidence of benefit compared with adding placebo/no additional treatments. Addition of long-acting beta2 agonists may reduce symptoms and improve physiological measures compared with increased dose of corticosteroids in older children. Long-acting beta2 agonists are not currently licensed for use in children under 5 years of age.Consensus suggests that younger children are likely to benefit from addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists. Although there is weak evidence that addition of theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids does improve symptom control and reduce exacerbations, theophylline should only be added to inhaled corticosteroids in children aged over 5 years when the addition of long-acting beta2 agonists and leukotriene receptor antagonists have both been unsuccessful.
Omalizumab may be indicated in the secondary care setting for older children (aged over 5 years) with poorly controlled allergic asthma despite use of intermediate- and high-dose inhaled corticosteroids once the diagnosis is confirmed and compliance and psychological issues are addressed. However, we need more data to draw firm conclusions.
PMCID: PMC3285219  PMID: 22305975
16.  Asthma and other wheezing disorders in children 
Clinical Evidence  2006;2006:0302.
Introduction
Asthma is more common in children with a personal or family history of atopy, increased severity and frequency of wheezing episodes, and presence of variable airway obstruction or bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Precipitating factors for symptoms and acute episodes include infection, house dust mites, allergens from pet animals, exposure to tobacco smoke, and anxiety.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatments for acute asthma in children? What are the effects of single-agent prophylaxis in children taking as-needed inhaled beta agonists for asthma? What are the effects of additional prophylactic treatments in childhood asthma inadequately controlled by standard-dose inhaled corticosteroids? What are the effects of treatments and of prophylactic treatments for acute wheezing in infants? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to October 2005 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 84 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: beta2 agonists (high-dose nebulised, long-acting [inhaled salmeterol], short-acting [oral salbutamol or by nebuliser, or metered-dose inhaler/spacer versus nebuliser]), corticosteroids (oral prednisolone, systemic, inhaled higher or lower doses [beclometasone]), ipratropium bromide (single or multiple dose inhaled), leukotriene receptor antagonists (oral montelukast), nedocromil (inhaled), oxygen, sodium cromoglycate (inhaled), or theophylline (oral or intravenous).
Key Points
Childhood asthma can be difficult to distinguish from viral wheeze and can affect up to 20% of children.
The consensus is that oxygen, high dose nebulised beta2 agonists and systemic corticosteroids should be used to treat an acute asthma attack. High dose beta2 agonists may be equally effective when given intermittently or continuously via a nebuliser, or from a metered dose inhaler using a spacer, in children with an acute asthma attack.Admission to hospital may be averted by adding ipratropium bromide to beta2 agonists, or by using high dose nebulised or oral corticosteroids.
Prophylactic inhaled corticosteroids improve symptoms and lung function in children with asthma. Their effect on final adult height is unclear. Inhaled nedocromil, inhaled long acting beta2 agonists, oral theophylline and oral leukotriene receptor antagonists are less effective than corticosteroids.Inhaled sodium cromoglycate does not seem to improve symptoms.
CAUTION: Monotherapy with long acting beta2 agonists reduces the frequency of asthma episodes, but may increase the chance of severe asthma episodes and death when those episodes occur. Intravenous theophylline may improve lung function in children with severe asthma, but can cause cardiac arrhythmias and convulsions.
We don't know whether adding higher doses of corticosteroids, long acting beta2 agonists, oral leukotriene receptor antagonists or oral theophylline to standard treatment improves symptoms or lung function in children with uncontrolled asthma.
In infants with acute wheeze, short acting beta2 agonists via a nebuliser or a spacer may improve symptoms, but we don't know whether high dose inhaled or oral corticosteroids or inhaled ipratropium bromide are beneficial.
Oral short acting beta2 agonists and inhaled high dose corticosteroids may prevent or improve wheeze in infants but can cause adverse effects. We don't know whether lower dose inhaled or oral corticosteroids, inhaled ipratropium bromide or inhaled short acting beta2 agonists improve wheezing episodes in infants.
PMCID: PMC2907635
17.  Double trouble: impact of inappropriate use of asthma medication on the use of health care resources 
Background
There is considerable controversy about the regular use of short- acting β-agonists for the treatment of asthma. Although case–control studies have suggested that excessive use of these drugs may worsen asthma control and increase the risk of fatal or near-fatal asthma, the controversy remains unresolved because of the confounding that exists among disease control, disease severity and the use of short-acting β-agonists. Whatever the cause-and-effect relation between the use of short-acting β-agonists and disease severity, we hypothesized that their excessive use, in conjunction with underuse of inhaled corticosteroids, would be a marker for poorly controlled asthma and excessive use of health care resources.
Methods
To characterize the pattern of health services utilization among asthmatic patients taking various doses of inhaled β-agonists and corticosteroids in British Columbia, we linked the relevant health administrative databases. All patients between 5 and 50 years of age for whom a prescription for a short-acting β-agonist was filled in 1995 and whose prescription data were captured through the provincial drug plan were included in a retrospective analysis of prescriptions for asthma drugs, physician prescribing patterns and health services utilization. Patients' use of asthma medication was classified as appropriate (low doses of short-acting β-agonist and high doses of inhaled corticosteroid) or inappropriate (high doses of short-acting β-agonist and low doses of inhaled corticosteroid), and the 2 resulting groups were compared, by means of logistic, Poisson and gamma regression, for differences in prescribing patterns, physician visits and use of hospital resources.
Results
A total of 23 986 patients were identified as having filled a prescription for a short-acting β-agonist (for inhalation) in 1995. Of these, 3069 (12.8%) filled prescriptions for 9 or more canisters of β-agonist, and of this group of high-dose β-agonist users, 763 (24.9%) used no more than 100 μg/day of inhaled beclomethasone. On average, those with inappropriate use of β-agonists visited significantly more physicians for their prescriptions (1.8 v. 1.4), and each of these physicians on average wrote significantly more prescriptions for asthma medications per patient than the physicians who prescribed to appropriate users (5.2 v. 2.5 prescriptions). Patients with inappropriate use were more likely to be admitted to hospital (adjusted relative risk [RR] 1.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.25–2.26), were admitted to hospital more frequently (adjusted RR 1.81, 95% CI 1.41–2.32) and were more likely to require emergency admission (adjusted RR 1.93, 95% CI 1.35–2.77).
Interpretation
Despite the widespread distribution of guidelines for asthma pharmacotherapy, inappropriate use of asthma medications persists (specifically excessive use of inhaled short-acting β-agonists combined with underuse of inhaled corticosteroids). Not only are patients who use medication inappropriately at higher risk for fatal or near-fatal asthma attacks, but, as shown in this study, they use significantly more health care resources than patients with appropriate medication use.
PMCID: PMC80815  PMID: 11258208
18.  Evaluation of peak flow and symptoms only self management plans for control of asthma in general practice. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1990;301(6765):1355-1359.
OBJECTIVE--To compare a peak flow self management plan for asthma with a symptoms only plan. DESIGN--Randomisation to one of the self management plans and follow up for a year. SETTING--Four partner, rural training practice in Norfolk. SUBJECTS--115 Patients (46 children and 69 adults) with asthma who were having prophylactic treatment for asthma and attending a nurse run asthma clinic. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The number of doctor consultations, courses of oral steroids, and short term nebulised salbutamol treatments and the number of patients who required doctor consultations, courses of oral steroids, and short term nebulised salbutamol. RESULTS--Both self management plans produced significant reductions in the outcome measures but there were no significant differences in the degree of improvement between the groups. The results were similar for children and adults. The proportions of patients requiring a doctor consultation fell from 98% (50/51) to 66% (34/51) in the peak flow group and from 97% (62/64) to 53% (34/64) in the symptoms only group and the proportions requiring oral steroids from 73% (34/46) to 47% (21/46) and 52% (31/60) to 12% (7/60). The median number of doctor consultations was reduced from 8.0 to 2.0 in the peak flow group and from 4.5 to 1.0 in the symptoms only group. CONCLUSIONS--The peak flow meter was not the crucial ingredient in the improved illness of the two groups. Teaching patients the importance of their symptoms and the appropriate action to take when their asthma deteriorates is the key to effective management of asthma. Simply prescribing peak flow meters without a system of self management and regular review will be unlikely to improve patient care.
PMCID: PMC1664498  PMID: 2148702
19.  Influences on hospital admission for asthma in south Asian and white adults: qualitative interview study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7319):962.
Objective
To explore reasons for increased risk of hospital admission among south Asian patients with asthma.
Design
Qualitative interview study using modified critical incident technique and framework analysis.
Setting
Newham, east London, a deprived area with a large mixed south Asian population.
Participants
58 south Asian and white adults with asthma (49 admitted to hospital with asthma, 9 not admitted); 17 general practitioners; 5 accident and emergency doctors; 2 out of hours general practitioners; 1 asthma specialist nurse.
Main outcome measures
Patients' and health professionals' views on influences on admission, events leading to admission, general practices' organisation and asthma strategies, doctor-patient relationship, and cultural attitudes to asthma.
Results
South Asian and white patients admitted to hospital coped differently with asthma. South Asians described less confidence in controlling their asthma, were unfamiliar with the concept of preventive medication, and often expressed less confidence in their general practitioner. South Asians managed asthma exacerbations with family advocacy, without systematic changes in prophylaxis, and without systemic corticosteroids. Patients describing difficulty accessing primary care during asthma exacerbations were registered with practices with weak strategies for asthma care and were often south Asian. Patients with easy access described care suggesting partnerships with their general practitioner, had better confidence to control asthma, and were registered with practices with well developed asthma strategies that included policies for avoiding hospital admission.
Conclusions
The different ways of coping with asthma exacerbations and accessing care may partly explain the increased risk of hospital admission in south Asian patients. Interventions that increase confidence to control asthma, confidence in the general practitioner, understanding of preventive treatment, and use of systemic corticosteroids in exacerbations may reduce hospital admissions. Development of more sophisticated asthma strategies by practices with better access and partnerships with patients may also achieve this.
What is already known on this topicSouth Asian patients with asthma are at increased risk of hospital admission with asthma compared with white patientsNo consistent differences in severity or prevalence of asthma, prescribed drugs, or asthma education have been described, and interventions to reduce admission rates in Asian patients have met with variable successWhat this study addsCompared with white patients, south Asian patients admitted to hospital with asthma had less confidence to control asthma, were unfamiliar with the concept of preventive medication, and had less confidence in their general practitionersSouth Asian patients managed asthma attacks through family advocacy and without systematic changes in prophylaxis and without systemic corticosteroidsPatients reporting difficulty in accessing primary care during attacks were often south Asian
PMCID: PMC59689  PMID: 11679384
20.  Is asthma treatment affordable in developing countries? 
Thorax  1997;52(7):605-607.
BACKGROUND: A study was undertaken to assess whether the therapeutic aspects of published international asthma management guidelines are practically applicable in developing countries. METHODS: Questionnaires were sent to expatriate doctors working in developing countries. RESULTS: Forty one replies were received from 24 countries in Africa and Asia. Oral salbutamol was prescribed "usually" or "often" by 35 of the 41 respondents, theophyllines by 30, inhaled bronchodilators by 12, inhaled steroids by two, and cromoglycate by two. Theophyllines were locally available in all 41 cases, oral salbutamol in 40, inhaled bronchodilators in 34, and inhaled steroids (usually beclomethasone 50 micrograms) in only 15. Where they were available, the median (range) coat of a beclomethasone 50 micrograms inhaler was 20% (6.8-100%) of average local monthly income, salbutamol inhaler 13% (3.3-250%), 90 salbutamol 4 mg tablets 3.8% (0.8-75%), and 90 aminophylline 100 mg tablets 4.5% (0.5-70%). If they were available locally at a cheaper price, 34 (83%) respondents would prescribe more inhaled steroids and 37 (90%) would prescribe more inhaled bronchodilators. CONCLUSIONS: Many asthma patients in developing countries are not receiving adequate treatment because the required drugs are not available in their area or are prohibitively expensive. 



PMCID: PMC1758612  PMID: 9246130
21.  Use of inhaled medications and urgent care services. Study of Canadian asthma patients. 
Canadian Family Physician  1999;45:1707-1713.
OBJECTIVE: To determine asthma patients' patterns of disease and knowledge of asthma. DESIGN: Telephone survey of patients with diagnosed asthma. SETTING: Residences in 10 Canadian provinces. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with asthma diagnosed by a doctor: 829 men and women with a mean age of 38 +/- 7 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Classes of asthma medications, patterns of use, frequency and severity of asthma symptoms use of emergency departments and urgent medical services, participation in asthma education programs, presence of environmental triggers, and knowledge of asthma pathophysiology and treatment. RESULTS: Four hundred fifty-six patients (55%) reported daily symptoms of asthma; 431 patients (52%) used inhaled beta 2-agonists daily. Only 340 patients (41%) used inhaled corticosteroids (IC), and many used them irregularly. A total of 579 (72%) respondents reported no unscheduled visits to a family physician for worsening asthma, but one third of patients had been to an emergency department for uncontrolled asthma in the last 5 years, and most of these visits had occurred during the last year. As to knowledge, 406 patients (49%) disagreed with the statement that asthma is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured. Among IC users, only 101 (30%) knew that IC reduced airway inflammation; among beta 2-agonist users, only 33% agreed that beta 2-agonists opened the bronchial tubes. Two hundred forty patients (29%) reported being current cigarette smokers, and 381 (46%) reported having pets at home. CONCLUSIONS: Daily symptoms and daily use of beta 2-agonists are common among Canadian asthma patients, and this is in excess of what is considered acceptable by current asthma care guidelines. Underuse of IC, inadequate knowledge of asthma symptoms and treatments, and failure to avoid asthma triggers were common in the population studied.
PMCID: PMC2328364  PMID: 10424270
22.  Risk of severe life threatening asthma and beta agonist type: an example of confounding by severity. 
Thorax  1996;51(11):1093-1099.
BACKGROUND: A study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that a particular inhaled beta agonist, fenoterol, increases the incidence of severe life threatening asthma. METHODS: A retrospective cohort was assembled comprising 655 patients with asthma aged 15-55 years who attended a single Auckland hospital for acute asthma between 1 January 1986 and 31 December 1987 (the "index event"). Patients were followed for the occurrence of death from asthma or admission to the intensive care unit for asthma, until death or 31 May 1989. Data on asthma medications and asthma severity were obtained from forms used specifically for managing patients with acute asthma in the emergency department and maintained as part of the hospital record and/or from the hospital record (when patients were admitted). RESULTS: Following the index event 90 admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 15 asthma deaths were identified. Before adjusting for asthma severity, patients using inhaled fenoterol had a greater incidence of severe life threatening asthma than patients using inhaled salbutamol (RR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.4 to 3.1). After controlling for two markers of severe asthma used in previous studies-a hospital admission in the previous year and prescribed oral corticosteroids-the relative risk estimate declined to 1.5 (95% CI 1.0 to 2.3). After controlling further for the number of hospital admissions during the study period, continuous oral corticosteroid use rather than short courses of treatment, severity of the previous attack requiring a hospital visit, and race, fenoterol was not associated with severe life threatening asthma at the time of attendance for a previous hospital visit (RR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.6 to 1.7). CONCLUSION: Fenoterol is used more often by patients with severe asthma and, after adjusting for differences in baseline risk, it does not increase the risk of severe life threatening asthma.
PMCID: PMC1090519  PMID: 8958891
23.  Medication prescribing for asthma and COPD: a register-based cross-sectional study in Swedish primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:54.
Background
There is a gap between prescribed asthma medication and diagnosed asthma in children and adolescents. However, few studies have explored this issue among adults, where asthma medication is also used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between prescribing of medications indicated for asthma and COPD and the recorded diagnosis for these conditions.
Method
In a register-based study, individuals prescribed a medication indicated for asthma and COPD during 2004-2005 (Group A; n = 14 101) and patients with diagnoses of asthma or COPD recorded during 2000-2005 (Group B; n = 12 328) were identified from primary health care centers in Skaraborg, Sweden. From a 5% random sample of the medication users (n = 670), the written medical records were accessed. Primary outcomes: prevalence of medication and diagnoses, reasons for prescription. Secondary outcomes: type and number of prescribed drugs and performance of peak expiratory flow or spirometry.
Results
Medications indicated for asthma and COPD was prescribed to 5.6% of the population in primary care (n = 14 101). Among them, an asthma diagnosis was recorded for 5876 individuals (42%), 1116 (8%) were diagnosed with COPD and 545 (4%) had both diagnoses. The remaining 6564 individuals (46%) were lacking a recorded diagnosis. The gap between diagnosis and medication was present in all age-groups. Medication was used as a diagnostic tool among 30% of the undiagnosed patients and prescribed off-label for 54%. Missed recording of ICD-codes for existing asthma or COPD accounted for 16%.
Conclusion
There was a large discrepancy between prescribing of medication and the prevalence of diagnosed asthma and COPD. Consequently, the prevalence of prescriptions of medications indicated for asthma and COPD should not be used to estimate the prevalence of these conditions. Medication was used both as a diagnostic tool and in an off-label manner. Therefore, the prescribing of medications for asthma and COPD does not adhere to national clinical guidelines. More efforts should be made to improve the prescribing of medication indicated for asthma and COPD so that they align with current guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-54
PMCID: PMC3987171  PMID: 24666507
Asthma; COPD; Prescribing; Off-label; Guidelines; Cross-sectional study
24.  Challenges in the Management of Bronchial Asthma Among Adults in Nigeria: A Systematic Review 
Inadequate attention given to the management of asthma and ways of improving bronchial asthma control could be an important factor for the rising morbidity and mortality from asthma despite major advances in our understanding of the disease process. There is a paucity of data concerning the challenges faced in the management of asthma in Africa. This review was aimed at highlighting the challenges facing asthma management and to discuss various strategies in improving asthma control in Nigeria. Data were sourced from PubMed, Medline, African Journals Online, Google Scholar, SCOPUS, and by reviewing the references of relevant literature. Additional articles were obtained via communications with colleagues and reviewing the Abstract Books of Nigeria Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Conference from 2005 to 2012. The data search was up-to-date as of December 31, 2012. Challenges in asthma management were found during diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. There are wide variations in diagnostic criteria for bronchial asthma and lack of standard diagnostic equipment leading to under or misdiagnosis. Treatment challenges include poor communication gap between the health-care providers and the patients, a high-cost and unavailability of essential asthma medications. Poor technique uses for medication devices, especially the inhalational drugs and Lack of National/hospital protocol or guidelines for treating asthma. Several challenges affect asthma management in developing countries, which borders on poverty, inadequate resources, weak health systems, and poor infrastructure. Efforts should be made to address these challenges by the Nigerian government, Nigerian Thoracic Society, pharmaceutical industries, and the health-care workers in general.
doi:10.4103/2141-9248.117927
PMCID: PMC3793433  PMID: 24116307
Asthma; Challenges; Diagnosis; Follow-up; Nigeria; Treatment
25.  The predictive value of asthma medications to identify individuals with asthma--a study in German general practices. 
BACKGROUND: The assessment of prescribing performance by aggregated measures mainly developed from automated databases is often helpful for general practitioners. For asthma treatment, the frequently applied ratio of anti-inflammatory to bronchodilator drugs may, however, be misleading if the specificity of a drug for the treatment of asthma, compared with other diseases, is unknown. AIM: To test the association of specific drugs with the diagnosis of asthma compared with other diagnoses. DESIGN OF STUDY: Cross-sectional study analysing prescription data from a retrospective chart review. SETTING: Eight general practices and one community respiratory practice in a town in Northern Germany. METHOD: All patients in the participating practices who received at least one of the 50 asthma drugs most frequently prescribed in Germany within the past 12 weeks were identified. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (ClI) were calculated to reveal any association between a specific drug and the diagnosis of asthma. The unit of analysis was the item prescribed. RESULTS: Topical betamimetics (e.g salbutamol, fenoterol) were the most often prescribed asthma drugs in the general practices (52.1 ) and in the respiratory practice (57.6%). Inhaled steroids accounted for 15% and 13%; systemic steroids accounted for 10% and 13%, respectively. In the general practices, inhaled betamimetics had a moderate marker function for asthma (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.14-3.58). A fixed oral combination drug of clenbuterol plus ambroxol was a marker drug against asthma (OR = 0.35; 95% CI = 0.20-0.61). In the respiratory practice, the diagnosis of asthma was strongly marked by fixed combinations of cromoglycate plus betamimetics (OR = 29.0; 95% CI = 6.86-122.24) and moderately by inhaled betamimetics (OR = 2.6; 95% CI = 1.28-5.14). In contrast, systemic steroids (OR = 0.24; 95% CI 0.10-0.57) and even inhaled steroids (OR = 0.46; 95% ClI= 0.22-0.96) proved to contradict the diagnosis of asthma. CONCLUSION: Only betamimetics were markers for asthma patients in both types of practices; inhaled steroids, however, were not. Combinations of cromoglycate were markers in the respiratory practice only. Limited specificity of drugs for a disease (e.g asthma) should be taken into account when analysing prescribing data that are not diagnosis linked.
PMCID: PMC1314143  PMID: 11761200

Results 1-25 (681004)