Boston Scientific recently conducted an extensive patient survey that sought to better understand the impact asthma has made and continues to make on the lives of more than 850 patients in Europe. The survey, titled, “Uncovering Asthma” revealed that approximately 71% of patients with severe asthma suffer daily from the disease’s symptoms and feel the brunt of these effects in their social life (32%), working life (23%), family life (18%) and sex life (17%).
Estimates show that severe asthma affects about 1.5 million people in the European Union, with some experts suggesting the possibility of a fifth of asthma patients having a severe form of the disease. While there are medications available to help manage symptom flare-ups, patients must put in additional effort to reevaluate their condition, its negative impact on their lives, coordinate with a healthcare provider and specialist, and learn how to take control.
Almost half of those who took part in the survey were either working or studying. These patients reported they have had to give up hours or even days working or going to class because of their condition’s debilitating symptoms. Some of the respondents even believe their severe asthma has limited them career-wise.
“When I was at primary school, I would be in hospital around six times a year due to severe asthma attacks,” said Reah Yarworth, a 24-year-old. “It had a serious effect on my studies and was really worrying for my family. When I was at school, I struggled to join in any physical education classes because of my asthma; I wanted to take part and play with the other children in my class, but it was not possible. I continued to struggle as I grew up, being unable to join friends on holiday or go to the gym like other people my age.”
The survey also revealed that about a fourth of the survey’s respondents are faced with difficulties in doing household chores, gardening, and even spending time with family and friends. A quarter of respondents also reported the disease taking control of their sex life, with 29% of male respondents and 18% of female respondents admitting to their condition’s negative effects on their sex life.
“It is clear that severe asthma has a profound impact on people’s everyday lives, as the Uncovering Asthma survey findings show that a third of those surveyed with the condition feel depressed and over a third report feelings of anxiety,” commented Dr. Rob Niven, a Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. “As a healthcare professional, it is also important to understand that a sizable proportion of severe asthma sufferers are not responding to currently prescribed medicines, which is worrying. Many people who responded to the survey noted that better controlled symptoms would allow them to be more active, free and positive about their lives.”
Some patients with severe asthma may opt to undergo a non-drug treatment option. Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) is a minimally invasive procedure that, while not meant to remove dependency on asthma medication to control symptoms, can greatly improve medication efficacy and symptom control in severe asthma patients who are at least 18 years of age. Previous studies on BT have shown the procedure to lend long-term benefits for up to 5 years.
“The Uncovering Asthma Report helps to highlight the challenges of managing severe asthma and important real life experiences from people who have the condition. We hope this report addresses these challenges for people with severe asthma, their families and loved ones, as well as the healthcare professionals who help manage this potentially life-threatening condition on a daily basis,” said Paraic Curtis, vice president of the MedSurg division of Boston Scientific Europe.