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Identifying asthma patients who tolerate lower doses of steroids remains problematic
Date:5/22/2012

ATS 2012, SAN FRANCISCO Common respiratory measurements are not effective in determining which asthma patients are able to significantly decrease their use of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) medications without risk of flare-ups or exacerbations, according to a new study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom. The study also showed that nearly three-quarters of asthma patients can safely decrease, or step-down, their use of ICS medications once their symptoms are under control.

The study will be presented at the ATS 2012 International Conference in San Francisco.

Although medical guidelines recommend decreasing the use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in asthma patients once asthma flare-ups or exacerbations are under control, identifying which patients will have additional flare-ups following a decrease in ICS use remains problematic.

"Our results show that while none of the baseline measurements we evaluated were effective in identifying which patients will or will not be able to reduce their ICS dose, 67 percent of well-controlled asthmatic patients can successfully reduce their ICS dose by half without risking loss of symptom control or exacerbation," said lead author Emma Wilson, BSc Hons, research associate at Nottingham Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit. The study was funded by the U.K.'s National Institute for Health Research.

"Ideally, clinicians would be able to tell which patients would be able to tolerate a reduction in medicine and, just as importantly, which patients would have symptom flare-ups with a reduction in ICS use," Ms. Wilson added. "But so far, a means of doing that has remained frustratingly out of reach. In the current study, we wanted to learn if simple measurements, routinely used in primary care to assess asthma patients, might be helpful in categorizing patients into those who can tolerate a decrease in ICS use, and those who cannot."

The researchers gathered data from 191 non
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Contact: Nathaniel Dunford
ndunford@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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