UK Study: Nearly Half Asthma Deaths Preventable

September 23, 2016

Nearly half of asthma deaths in the United Kingdom could likely have been prevented, researchers there found.

Nearly half of all asthma deaths in the United Kingdom (UK) could likely have been prevented, a new analysis finds.

Better condition assessment and improved doctor-patient relationship could transform those health results, according to the study published recently in Respiratory Research.

Written by Shauib Nasser, MD, consultant in Allergy & Asthma at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the study culled from and examined the results of a comprehensive national May 2014 report led by Nasser entitled, “Why Asthma still kills: The National Review of Asthma Deaths.”

Cases were drawn from the UK government agency statistics on asthma-related deaths for February 2012 — January 2013.

A number of screening mechanisms were used to eliminate events potentially attributable to patient comorbidities or other non-asthma factors, resulting in a final study group of 195 cases. Nasser found that 46% of the 195 deaths were preventable with “alternative management if clinicians had better knowledge and implemented asthma guidelines.”

The analysis found that patients failed to seek medical assistance in 46% of the cases, and that in only 43% of the 195 deaths had patients been under the supervision of a specialist during the preceding 12-month period. Additionally, for those records in which asthma severity could be determined, only 39% appeared to suffer from severe asthma, while 9% had been treated for mild asthma. Nonetheless, statistics suggested that about half of those who died were or should have been on the radar screen as a consequence of prior hospital admissions, visits to the Emergency Department or an asthma history requiring involvement of a specialist.

Suggestions outlined by the author to address this significant incidence of asthma fatalities entail an approach encapsulated by the acronym “PAST” (Personalized asthma action plans, Asthma phenotype, Structured Asthma review, and Therapy).

Nasser takes issue with the “common misconception that an individual’s asthma phenotype or triggers are unimportant.” He stresses, rather, that until such determinations become routine, “it is unlikely that asthma care will improve or deaths reduced significantly.”

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