Asthma often poorly controlled: Study

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A significant number of asthma patients visiting their primary care doctor for other reasons have inadequately controlled asthma, according to results of a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Seattle.

“Primary care providers may want to take the opportunity to assess asthma control in all asthma patients, regardless of the reason for their visit; this may lead to better treatment and improved asthma outcomes,” Dr. Richard H. Stanford from GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, noted in comments to Reuters Health.

Stanford and colleagues used a standard scoring system to assess how common inadequately controlled asthma was in 35 primary care practices across the United States.

A total of 2,150 patients ages 18 or older with a self-reported diagnosis of asthma completed a survey just prior to seeing their primary care physician. Forty percent of patients were seeing their physicians for a breathing-related problem and 60 percent were seeing them for other reasons.

According Stanford and colleagues, nearly 48 percent of patients seeing their doctor for other reasons had asthma that was not well controlled.

Asthma that was not well controlled was more common among African Americans than Caucasians or Hispanics. Roughly one third of patients with inadequately controlled asthma had disease flare-ups in the previous 12 months compared with one quarter of those with well-controlled asthma.

“This is a very important finding,” Dr. Gailen D. Marshall of the University of Mississippi, Jackson, and Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said at a press briefing where the study was featured.

“This study reemphasizes that in primary care practices there are a lot of not well-controlled asthma patients…and patients don’t even realize they have not well controlled asthma,” Marshall said.\

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