The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 11/2007; 120(5):S94-138. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2007.09.029
Highlights of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR-3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma-Full Report 2007 are presented in this EPR-3 summary report. The updated guidelines emphasize the importance of asthma control. Asthma control is the degree to which the manifestations of asthma are minimized by therapeutic intervention and the goals of therapy are met. Because asthma is highly variable, the level of control must be monitored on a periodic basis to determine whether therapy should be maintained or adjusted (stepped up if necessary, stepped down if possible). On the other hand, asthma severity is the intrinsic intensity of the disease process, most easily and directly measured in a patient not receiving long-term control therapy. For managing asthma, the recommendation is to assess severity to initiate therapy and assess control to adjust therapy. Recommendations for managing asthma include an expanded section on childhood asthma with addition of an age group 5 to 11 years old (earlier guidelines combined this group with adults). The guidelines provide new recommendations on patient education in settings beyond the physician's office, and new advice for controlling environmental factors that can cause asthma symptoms. The concepts of current impairment (frequency and intensity of symptoms, low lung function, and limitations of daily activities) and future risk (likelihood of exacerbations, progressive loss of lung function, or adverse side effects from medications) support a new approach to assessing and monitoring the patient's level of asthma control through use of multiple measures. The guidelines stress that some patients can still be at high risk for frequent exacerbations even if they have few day-to-day effects of asthma.Moreover, EPR-3 confirms the importance of teaching patients skills to self-monitor and manage asthma and to use a written asthma action plan, which should include instructions for daily treatment and ways to recognize and handle worsening asthma. New recommendations encourage expanding educational opportunities to reach patients in a variety of settings, such as pharmacies, schools, community centers, and patients' homes. A new section addresses the need for clinician education programs to improve communication with patients and to use system-wide approaches to integrate the guidelines into health care practice. The guidelines describe new evidence for using multiple approaches to limit exposure to allergens and other substances that can worsen asthma; research shows that single steps are rarely sufficient. EPR-3 also expands the section on common conditions that can affect asthma and notes that management of these conditions may help to improve asthma control. Expert Panel Report 3 continues the use of a stepwise approach to control asthma. When assessing the level of asthma control to determine the need for adjusting therapy, EPR-3 reconfirms the importance of assessing patient adherence to medication, inhaler technique, and environmental control measures before making a step up in therapy. The stepwise approach expands from 4 steps to 6 steps of care. Medications have been repositioned within these 6 steps. Recommendations on medications are updated to reflect the latest evidence on effectiveness and safety. EPR-3 reaffirms that patients with persistent asthma need both long-term control medications to control asthma and prevent exacerbations and quick-relief medication for symptoms, as needed. EPR-3 also reaffirms that inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term control medication across all age groups. New recommendations on treatment options such as leukotriene receptor antagonists and cromolyn for long-term control; long-acting beta-agonists as adjunct therapy with inhaled corticosteroids; omalizumab for severe asthma; and albuterol, levalbuterol, and corticosteroids for acute exacerbations are included.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atopic diseases and asthma are increasing at a remarkable rate on a global scale. It is now well recognized that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The inflammatory process in many patients is driven by an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-dependent process. Mast cell activation and release of mediators, in response to allergen and IgE, results in a cascade response, culminating in B lymphocyte, T lymphocyte, eosinophil, fibroblast, smooth muscle cell and endothelial activation. This complex cellular interaction, release of cytokines, chemokines and growth factors and inflammatory remodeling of the airways leads to chronic asthma. A subset of patients develops severe airway disease which can be extremely morbid and even fatal. While many treatments are available for asthma, it is still a chronic and incurable disease, characterized by exacerbation, hospitalizations and associated adverse effects of medications. Omalizumab is a new option for chronic asthma that acts by binding to and inhibiting the effects of IgE, thereby interfering with one aspect of the asthma cascade reviewed earlier. This is a humanized monoclonal antibody against IgE that has been shown to have many beneficial effects in asthma. Use of omalizumab may be influenced by the cost of the medication and some reported adverse effects including the rare possibility of anaphylaxis. When used in selected cases and carefully, omalizumab provides a very important tool in disease management. It has been shown to have additional effects in urticaria, angioedema, latex allergy and food allergy, but the data is limited and the indications far from clear. In addition to decreasing exacerbations, it has a steroid sparing role and hence may decrease adverse effects in some patients on high-dose glucocorticoids. Studies have shown improvement in quality of life measures in asthma following the administration of omalizumab, but the effects on pulmonary function are surprisingly small, suggesting a disconnect between pulmonary function, exacerbations and quality of life. Anaphylaxis may occur rarely with this agent and appropriate precautions have been recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As currently practiced and as suggested by the new asthma guidelines, this biological agent is indicated in moderate or severe persistent allergic asthma (steps 5 and 6).
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