Asthma control key to best care

Asthma management should be reassessed according to how well the patient is controlling symptoms, international experts have said.

The updated guidelines have been issued by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), which collaborates with the WHO. They move away from the 2002 guideline which recommended treatment be primarily based on the severity of asthma.

GPs should consider asthma treatment as a continuous cycle, with adjustments made depending on how well it is controlled.

GINA wants patients to self-administer an asthma control test to assess this control. By rating the severity of their symptoms, it is hoped patients can gauge how controlled their asthma is.

If GPs show patients how to use the questionnaire, they can check whether their asthma is uncontrolled or partly controlled, and alert their GP if a treatment change is needed.

With appropriate treatment, most patients should be able to control their asthma, as well as reducing related sleep disturbances, limitations of daily activity, impaired lung function and the use of rescue medications.

Somerset GP Dr Steve Holmes, chairman of the General Practice Airways Group (GPIAG ), welcomed the guideline.

‘The GPIAG is very much in favour of the new GINA guidelines as they are much more in line with the current British Thoracic Society and SIGN guidelines for asthma management than the previous GINA guidelines have been,' he said.

Both an asthma patient's control state and asthma severity are useful for deciding treatment, said Dr Holmes.

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