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New Asthma Guidelines Stress Disease Control
Date:8/29/2007

They also place greater focus on children with the respiratory condition

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials unveiled new asthma control guidelines Wednesday that seek to make breathing easier and maintaining an active lifestyle a reality for people with the lung disease.

"Asthma control is achievable for nearly every patient," Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said during a teleconference.

Nabel stressed that with proper medical care, healthy environments and better informed patients, asthma can be controlled, and people can lead active lives. "As health-care providers and patients, we really should accept nothing less," she said.

Asthma is a chronic but treatable disease that causes airways to narrow in response to allergens, making breathing difficult at times. More than 22 million Americans have asthma, including 6.5 million children under age 18, and those numbers are rising. Without proper treatment, asthma can limit a person's activities and lead to breathing complications that can result in hospitalization and even death. The disease causes some 4,000 deaths each year and almost 500,000 hospitalizations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Asthma is a major health problem in the United States," Nabel said.

The new guidelines, the first revision in a decade, were developed by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program under the sponsorship of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

They start by calling for a strong emphasis on monitoring asthma. One aspect of that monitoring should focus on the severity of a patient's daily symptoms. Both patients and doctors need to be aware of those daily symptoms.

Patients and doctors also need to be aware of the risk of future asthma attacks, loss of lung function and side effects from medication, Nabel said.<
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