BETHESDA, Md. (Jan. 28, 2008) − A multi-center research project to investigate severe asthma has found a key physiological difference between severe and non-severe forms of the disease, a finding that could help explain why those with severe asthma do not respond well to treatment.
The study from the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) has found that those with severe asthma are much more likely to show signs of air trapping in the lungs, a condition that prevents a full exhalation. The study also found that those who have severe asthma are more likely to have airway obstruction even after maximal treatment. The results suggest that those who suffer severe asthma have a different form of the disease.
SARP was formed to look for an underlying cause of severe asthma, because it is not responding to treatment, said Ronald Sorkness, a physiologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the lead author of the study, Lung Function in Adults with Stable but Severe asthma: Air Trapping and Incomplete Reversal of Obstruction with Bronchodilation. Understanding the pathophysiology of severe asthma and improving its treatment is the goal of SARP.
The study, which appears online in the Journal of Applied Physiology, compared lung function measurements from 287 people with severe asthma and 382 people with mild and moderate (non-severe) forms of the disease.
Living with asthma
There is much that is still unknown about asthma. For example, it is not clear why more women than men have asthma, and why the reverse is true among children. SARP is an ongoing project that has collected data and examined various aspects of asthma, including the role that genes and viruses may play in its onset.
Most asthma cases, 90-95%, can be controlled with medication. But the remaining 5-10% are the people who suffer a severe form of the disease that doesnt respond well to treatment. People who have severe asthma are
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American Physiological Society