Asthma: Redefining this silent killer


Asthma kit with nebulizer.

Asthma Impact and Statistics

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects a significant portion of the U.S. population. More than 27 million people in the U.S. have asthma, which equates to about 1 in 12 people [1]. The prevalence of asthma among adults increased from 6.9% in 2001 to 8.0% in 2021 [4]. Asthma rates are highest in Black and Indigenous American adults in the U.S., and it is observed to be more common in female adults than male adults [1]. Asthma is also a leading chronic disease in children [1].
The burden of asthma falls disproportionately on people with low income, senior adults, and Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native people [1]. Asthma can be deadly, and there is no cure, but appropriate treatment can prevent asthma attacks and improve quality of life [1].
Between 1980 and 2014, over 157,000 U.S. individuals succumbed to asthma, with a noted decline in the overall death rate. However, significant regional disparities exist, suggesting a need for tailored approaches to asthma care. This is further emphasized by global studies indicating a plateau in the asthma death rate since 2006.

Patient Empowerment and Education

Patient adherence to medication regimes is a significant challenge in asthma management, emphasizing the necessity for enhanced patient education and involvement in managing their condition. Enabling patients with asthma to make the right decisions surrounding medication adherence instead of “adherence controlling” by health professionals, as well as effective dialogue and appropriate education, are vital to increase medication adherence [6].
A study found that a family empowerment course improved asthma control in school-age children with asthma. Children in the intervention group made significantly fewer visits to the emergency department compared to those in the control group[3]. This underlines the fact that health services should train asthma-educated nurses as complementary staff to physicians. They can evaluate, plan, and monitor family empowerment more practically [3].
Training for healthcare professionals on good communication skills and empowering patients to be involved in their asthma management are both critical to ensure effective shared decision-making and, ultimately, improved quality of life for people with asthma [7].

Future Directions and Conclusion

The future of asthma management hinges on a collective effort from medical professionals and patients alike to redefine and tackle this condition more effectively. The current approach to asthma management has evolved substantially over the past decade; however, significant asthma-related morbidity and excess healthcare use and costs persist [2].
For precision in asthma management, more mechanistic approaches to care are needed. These new approaches would be based on an integrated understanding of the individual patient’s biological mechanisms[2]. Emerging treatments like immunotherapy show promise in reducing allergic symptoms and potentially preventing asthma development [5].
There is a pressing need to bring asthma medicine into the current century, with a focus on patient-centered approaches and advanced diagnostic tools. By adopting new methodologies, enhancing patient involvement, and focusing on individualized care, significant strides can be made in reducing the burden of this silent killer [2][5][6][7].



Additional Resources