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ACAAI Annual Meeting abstracts: Improved outcomes for adults with allergies and asthma

Cholesterol-lowering Drugs May Worsen Asthma

Cholesterol-lowering medications may help millions fight heart disease, but this class of drugs may worsen asthma control, according to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 3-8.

In the preliminary study researchers compared 20 patients with asthma taking prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication or statins, to 20 patients with asthma who did not take the drugs. The researchers found the patients taking statins had more airway inflammatory obstruction at three, six and 12 months compared to those not on statins.

"The research showed patients taking statins more frequently used their rescue medication, had increased nighttime awakenings and had increased asthma symptoms throughout the day," said allergist Safa Nsouli, MD, ACAAI member and director of the Danville Asthma and Allergy Clinic, Calif. "These potential effects of statins on the inflammatory cascade of asthma indicate the need for a larger scale study."

Title: The Correlation of Cholesterol Lowering Statin Drugs and Worsening Asthma Control in Mild Persistent Asthmatics

By the numbers: Nearly 25 million Americans have asthma. About 68 million Americans have high cholesterol.

Depression and Emotional Well-being Affect Seniors' Asthma Related Control and Quality of Life

Depression and emotional well-being greatly affect asthma control and quality of life for the approximately 2 million adults over 65 who have been diagnosed with asthma, according to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 3-8.

Researchers assessed the quality of life of 70 participants over the age of 65 who had been diagnosed with asthma. Quality of life measures included the number of asthma attacks and unscheduled physician visits within 12 months, self-reported depression, body mass index and confidence in managing their asthma.

The study showed depression and poorer physical and emotional status were associated with lower quality of life for participants in addition to the traditional indicators of poor asthma control.

"A more integrative approach is necessary in treating older adults with asthma," says allergist Jacqueline Ross, MD, ACAAI member. "If we treat the physical aspects of the disease as well as the psychological and social aspects, we may find greater success in asthma control and improved quality of life for seniors."

Title: Factors Associated with Asthma Quality of Life and Control among Older Adults

By the numbers: Of the nearly 25 million Americans with asthma, more than 2.5 million are 65 or older. In 2009, more than 1 million of them had an asthma attack or episode.

Treatment Guidelines Not Followed After Food-Induced Anaphylaxis

National guidelines recommend that patients who go to the emergency department for food-induced anaphylaxis, a life-threatening event, should fill an epinephrine auto-injector prescription after discharge and follow up with an allergist. The number of people who actually follow these recommendations is low, according to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 3-8.

In the first year after food-induced anaphylaxis, among 1,370 adults, researchers found just 55 percent filled an epinephrine autoinjector prescription and only 22 percent saw an allergist.

"It's important for anyone who experiences anaphylaxis to follow up with an allergist to have the allergen identified, learn how to use self-injectable epinephrine and discuss scenarios when its use is needed," says Carlos Camargo, MD, associate professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. "More research is needed to understand whether physicians need more education about anaphylaxis or if patients need interventions to ensure guidelines are followed. Either way, we need to improve anaphylaxis care to prevent future life-threatening reactions."

Title: A Retrospective Database Study of Concordance with Recommended Post-Discharge Anaphylaxis Care among US Adults Seen in the Emergency Department or Hospital with Food-Induced Anaphylaxis

By the numbers: About 6 percent of young children and 3 to 4 percent of adults have food allergies in the United States. Every year between 150 and 200 people die as a result of food allergies.

Stung by Poor Management of Insect-Sting Reactions

In a community hospital emergency department, adherence to the national guidelines for treating insect-sting anaphylaxis, a life-threatening event, is low, according to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 3-8.

Researchers reviewed the records of 45 patients with insect-induced anaphylaxis and found only 35 percent received epinephrine either administered by emergency medical services before arrival or while in the emergency department. In addition, just 33 percent of patients received a prescription for self-injectable epinephrine at the time of discharge and none were referred to an allergist.

"Physicians and healthcare professionals know the emergency department (ED) is the most common medical setting for diagnosing and treating anaphylaxis. However, we need to realize that advances in anaphylaxis management will only be achieved if ED staff follows the established guidelines for diagnosis and management of anaphylaxis," says allergist M. Razi Rafeeq, MD, ACAAI fellow. "This study demonstrates an opportunity for allergists to communicate and join forces with ED staff to guide patients with potentially life-threatening allergies toward better allergy management."

Title: Emergency Department Management of Insect-Sting Allergic Reactions in a Community Hospital

By the numbers: About 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings. Each year, 500,000 end up in hospital emergency rooms after stings and 50 die.

To learn more about allergies and asthma, take a relief self-test or find an allergist near you visit

Contact: Ashley Mattys
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

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