A new European study suggests that a large percentage of patients (94 percent in this study) suffering from severe asthma still struggle with the burden of uncontrolled disease.
The data, obtained from the “Still Fighting for Breath” survey, was recently announced by Novartis at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Congress June 17-21 in Finland.
The results of the study suggest that severe asthma is likely under-recognized, particularly by patients who may not realize that their disease is not adequately controlled.
Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition marked by constriction of the bronchi in the lungs, affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide. Although there is no cure for asthma, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms to reduce exacerbations. Severe exacerbations can be life-threatening and often require hospital admission.
To better quantify the burden of the disease, European researchers enrolled 904 adults and children suffering from severe persistent asthma in an online survey. Participating patients were from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal.
Researchers found that high levels of uncontrolled disease are common among patients with severe asthma. Asthma attacks were reported as extremely common, with nearly 74 percent of patients reporting an asthma attack severe enough to have required treatment from a healthcare professional.
Additionally, 32 percent of patients reported three or more asthma exacerbations within the three-month period of the study. More than a fifth of patients reported effects that lasted longer than a week from the initial exacerbation, disrupting both personal and professional lives.
Interestingly, the study also highlighted a discrepancy in how patients viewed their asthma control relative to that of a healthcare provider. Almost half the patients surveyed described their disease as “controlled,” while only 6 percent of the patients were actually found to be controlled according to Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) clinical guidelines.
“The results from this new survey are important as the data demonstrate that too many patients in Europe are living with the daily burden of uncontrolled severe asthma. As such, this patient population may be significantly under-served,” Prof. Antonella Muraro, one of the authors of the survey, said in a press release.
“More needs to be done and the first step is to bridge the gap between the perceptions of ‘good’ control vs reality among people with asthma. We need to focus greater efforts on empowering and educating those living with asthma to fight for better outcomes and to help them achieve a life unrestricted by their condition,” Muraro added.
A new patient engagement program known as Billion Breaths is currently planned by Novartis to help patients set activity goals, and to provide information and resources to help patients better manage their asthma.