Distinct Predictors for Future Asthma Attacks Still Undetermined

August 17, 2009

Extensive clinical testing is not an effective way to determine the risk of future asthma attacks in patients who are receiving treatment based on current guidelines and who adhere to the guidelines, a new study has found.

Extensive clinical testing is not an effective way to determine the risk of future asthma attacks in patients who are receiving treatment based on current guidelines and who adhere to the guidelines, a new study has found.

Through the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC), researchers examined lung inflammation, lung function and allergic status in adolescent and young adult patients, ages 12 to 20, and then provided the patients with care every 6-8 weeks through an ICAC center in their area. After these steps were completed, the researchers “analyzed the baseline measurements to determine if any of these assessments, alone or in combination, could predict future asthma symptoms or asthma attacks.” The researchers did not find any “significant” relationships between the tests done and asthma exacerbations.

According to an abstract of an article on the study that appeared in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the “baseline characteristics” that the researchers took “accounted for only a small portion of the variance for future maximum symptom days and exacerbations—11.4% and 12.6%, respectively.” In regard to later outcomes, the researchers found that “future exacerbations were somewhat predicted by asthma symptoms, albuterol use, previous exacerbations, and lung function, whereas maximum symptom days were predicted, also to a modest extent, by symptoms, albuterol use, and previous exacerbations, but not lung function.”

The researchers said that the study provided “the most comprehensive analysis to date of a number of factors previously thought to be useful in predicting future asthma attacks.” In addition, according to the researchers, “the results indicate clearly that there are no known common biological markers that can predict the course of the disease in such individuals.”

However, despite the lack of a definitive method for pinpointing future asthma attacks, the results of the study did show that “new predictors need to be identified that will be able to measure the continued fluctuation of disease that persists in highly adherent, well-treated populations such as the one studied,” according to the journal abstract.