A new perspective on concepts of asthma severity and control.
ABSTRACT Concepts of asthma severity and control are important in the evaluation of patients and their response to treatment but the terminology is not standardised and the terms are often used interchangeably. This review, arising from the work of an American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society Task Force, identifies the need for separate concepts of control and severity, describes their evolution in asthma guidelines and provides a framework for understanding the relationship between current concepts of asthma phenotype, severity and control. "Asthma control" refers to the extent to which the manifestations of asthma have been reduced or removed by treatment. Its assessment should incorporate the dual components of current clinical control (e.g. symptoms, reliever use and lung function) and future risk (e.g. exacerbations and lung function decline). The most clinically useful concept of asthma severity is based on the intensity of treatment required to achieve good asthma control, i.e. severity is assessed during treatment. Severe asthma is defined as the requirement for (not necessarily just prescription or use of) high-intensity treatment. Asthma severity may be influenced by the underlying disease activity and by the patient's phenotype, both of which may be further described using pathological and physiological markers. These markers can also act as surrogate measures for future risk.
Article: Identification and management of adults with asthma prone to exacerbations: can we do better?[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Exacerbations are a major cause of morbidity in asthma and generate high health costs. Identification and management of adults with asthma who are prone to exacerbations is of considerable importance as by this means it should be possible to reduce the number of patients who currently experience inadequately controlled disease. Exacerbations occur most frequently in individuals with severe disease. Other risk factors include a history of a recent exacerbation, co-morbidities such as a raised body mass index and psychological problems as well as current smoking and lower socio-economic status. A low FEV1, particularly if combined with the additional information from questionnaires helps predict exacerbations. Despite the association between these risk factors and exacerbations it remains difficult to accurately predict in an individual patient with asthma whether they will go on to develop an exacerbation in the future. A major aim of international guidelines on the management of asthma is to prevent future risks of exacerbations, but some patients, particularly those with severe disease, respond poorly to current therapies and continue to experience recurrent exacerbations. There is an unmet need for improved management strategies and drugs targeted at preventing asthma exacerbations. Monitoring induced sputum eosinophil cell counts is helpful in preventing exacerbations in some patient with severe asthma. Future developments are likely to include the identification of better biomarkers to predict exacerbations or the cause of exacerbations, augmentation of the immunological response to viruses at the time of the exacerbation, the use of telemonitoring in patients with severe asthma and the development of improved therapies targeted at reducing exacerbations.BMC Pulmonary Medicine 01/2009; 8:27. · 1.33 Impact Factor