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Aussies need more asthma symptom control

Aussies need more asthma symptom control
Photo: Aussies need more asthma symptom control
Asthma control is still deficient in Australian adults, according to new research showing almost one-third needed urgent health care in the previous year

Almost half of Australian adults with asthma have poor symptom control, while many are being prescribed preventer medicines contrary to official guidelines.
Nearly a third of 2686 sufferers recently surveyed needed urgent medical treatment for their condition in the past year.

However, researchers say a large proportion of asthma-related emergencies, deaths and associated costs are preventable.

"This study provides the first data about asthma control and its relationship with treatment in a large representative Australian population," they wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Led by Professor Helen Reddel from the University of Sydney's Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, they found 45 per cent had poor symptom control, while 29 per cent needed urgent health care for their asthma in the previous year.
They also found "substantial quality problems in Australia with respect to both the prescribing and use of preventer medications".

They found many more participants had been prescribed expensive combination inhalers - containing inhaled corticosteriods (ICS) and long-acting beta-agonists (LAB) - than had been prescribed ICS alone.

They said the guidelines emphasise that good asthma control can be achieved in most patients with ICS alone, and that only some need the combination medications, which are much more expensive for both government and patient.

The study showed 43 per cent of preventer medication users reported taking it less than five days a week and 31 per cent used it less than weekly.

More than half those with uncontrolled asthma symptoms used the medication less frequently than recommended, including one-third who did not use any at all.

"For almost half of participants there was a gap between the potential control of their asthma symptoms and the level currently experienced."

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