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National Survey Reveals Gap in 'Uncontrolled Asthma' Knowledge - Putting Asthma Patients at Risk for Serious Health Consequences
Date:4/15/2009

PHYSICIANS CONCERNED THAT ASTHMA PATIENTS WHO STOP USING ASTHMA CONTROLLER MEDICINE MAY VISIT EMERGENCY ROOM MORE OFTEN

WASHINGTON, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A new nationwide telephone survey of 1,001 patients found that while most asthma patients know the risks of "uncontrolled asthma," they misinterpret asthma control, not realizing that asthma is a chronic disease that requires long-term therapy - even when asthma symptoms are not present. Data from The Asthma G.A.P. in America II: General Awareness and Perceptions survey found that 66 percent of asthma patients considered asthma a serious condition, but an astounding 70 percent of the 21% who had discontinued taking an asthma controller medicine halted their prescribed long-term treatment because they incorrectly believed their asthma was controlled. The survey included 300 physicians and showed that 87% of physicians think that their patients stop their asthma controller medications without their advice. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) conducted the study with support from AstraZeneca.

"This survey shows there's an alarming divide between what people know about their asthma and the actions they take to achieve optimal control of their asthma symptoms," said Mike Tringale, AAFA's Director of External Affairs. "Part of the problem may be that many patients believe their asthma is under control once they're no longer experiencing symptoms. Asthma patients can take action to better manage their asthma symptoms through appropriate treatment, tools and resources, many of which are available at www.AsthmaGap.com."

People with asthma suffer from chronic lung inflammation (swelling), which, left untreated, can lead to progressive loss of lung function and other severe consequences. Despite these known facts, nearly half (42 percent) of patients surveyed incorrectly believe that when asthma symptoms subside, their controller medicine can be taken less regularly. For those with persistent asthma, a controller, or maintenance medications, helps manage chronic lung inflammation. When taken over the long-term, asthma controller medications are shown to not only help control asthma symptoms, but also help to improve lung function. Of the patients taking a controller medication, nearly all (93%) of patients indicate that controller medications work best when taken every day.

"There is a clear need for more physician-to-patient education about asthma control and appropriate therapies," said Dr. Reynold A. Panettieri, from the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the study. "The first step to asthma control is for patients and physicians to create an asthma action plan, which may include a controller therapy.

Asthma, considered one of the most serious chronic diseases in the United States, affects more than 22 million Americans. In fact, in 2004, sudden uncontrolled asthma episodes accounted for an estimated 1.8 million emergency room visits and nearly 500,000 hospitalizations. Current asthma management guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) note that properly controlled asthma is marked by patients being able to carry out all normal day-to-day activities, a decrease in weekly symptoms (no more than two times per week) and a decrease in yearly asthma attacks (no more than one attack per year which required oral corticosteroid therapy).

Asthma patients should not have to accept "uncontrolled asthma" and frequent, unplanned visits to the ER as part of having asthma. Proper care and treatment may help patients better control their asthma symptoms. Visit www.AsthmaGap.com and sign up to receive tools and resources to help make living with asthma easier.

Survey Design/Methodology

The Asthma G.A.P. II in America telephone survey was conducted between June 27 and August 18, 2008 among a national sample of 1,001 asthma sufferers from all ethnicities and regions. This comprehensive study was conducted to determine what gaps exist between awareness and perceptions regarding asthma.

The telephone study was authored by Dr. Reynold A. Panettieri, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Sheldon Spector, California Allergy and Asthma Medical Group; Dr. Matthew Mintz, George Washington University Medical Center; and Mike Tringale, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

This survey was the second phase of the Asthma G.A.P. in America: General Awareness and Perceptions survey that initially launched in 2007 and revealed widespread misperceptions about asthma control.

Results based on the sample of adults nationwide have a margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points, with a 95% confidence level. Visit AsthmaGap.com for more information about the survey.

About Asthma

Asthma is a condition characterized by inflammation of airways in the lungs resulting in chronic wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. Asthma has a significant impact on both individual lives and society including:

  • More than 4,000 deaths occurred in 2003
  • Nearly 500,000 hospitalizations occurred in 2004
  • 12.8 million missed days of school in 2003, making asthma the leading cause of school absenteeism
  • In 2003, over 10 million missed days of work for adults each year
  • 1.8 million emergency room visits in 2004
  • Nearly $18 billion in medical expenses and indirect costs

About AAFA

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the leading national nonprofit organization fighting asthma and allergic diseases. AAFA provides free information, conducts educational programs, fights for patients' rights, and funds research to find better treatments and cures. Log on to www.aafa.org for more information.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription medicines and in the supply of healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with global healthcare sales of $ 31.6 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $13.5 billion dollar healthcare business.

For more information about AstraZeneca in the US or our AZ&Me(TM) Prescription Savings programs, please visit: www.astrazeneca-us.com.


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SOURCE AstraZeneca
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