Author(s): National Asthma Education a
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Abstract Highlights of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR-3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma-Full Report 2007 are presented in this EPR-3 summary report. The updated guidelines emphasize the importance of asthma control. Asthma control is the degree to which the manifestations of asthma are minimized by therapeutic intervention and the goals of therapy are met. Because asthma is highly variable, the level of control must be monitored on a periodic basis to determine whether therapy should be maintained or adjusted (stepped up if necessary, stepped down if possible). On the other hand, asthma severity is the intrinsic intensity of the disease process, most easily and directly measured in a patient not receiving long-term control therapy. For managing asthma, the recommendation is to assess severity to initiate therapy and assess control to adjust therapy. Recommendations for managing asthma include an expanded section on childhood asthma with addition of an age group 5 to 11 years old (earlier guidelines combined this group with adults). The guidelines provide new recommendations on patient education in settings beyond the physician's office, and new advice for controlling environmental factors that can cause asthma symptoms. The concepts of current impairment (frequency and intensity of symptoms, low lung function, and limitations of daily activities) and future risk (likelihood of exacerbations, progressive loss of lung function, or adverse side effects from medications) support a new approach to assessing and monitoring the patient's level of asthma control through use of multiple measures. The guidelines stress that some patients can still be at high risk for frequent exacerbations even if they have few day-to-day effects of asthma.Moreover, EPR-3 confirms the importance of teaching patients skills to self-monitor and manage asthma and to use a written asthma action plan, which should include instructions for daily treatment and ways to recognize and handle worsening asthma. New recommendations encourage expanding educational opportunities to reach patients in a variety of settings, such as pharmacies, schools, community centers, and patients' homes. A new section addresses the need for clinician education programs to improve communication with patients and to use system-wide approaches to integrate the guidelines into health care practice. The guidelines describe new evidence for using multiple approaches to limit exposure to allergens and other substances that can worsen asthma; research shows that single steps are rarely sufficient. EPR-3 also expands the section on common conditions that can affect asthma and notes that management of these conditions may help to improve asthma control. Expert Panel Report 3 continues the use of a stepwise approach to control asthma. When assessing the level of asthma control to determine the need for adjusting therapy, EPR-3 reconfirms the importance of assessing patient adherence to medication, inhaler technique, and environmental control measures before making a step up in therapy. The stepwise approach expands from 4 steps to 6 steps of care. Medications have been repositioned within these 6 steps. Recommendations on medications are updated to reflect the latest evidence on effectiveness and safety. EPR-3 reaffirms that patients with persistent asthma need both long-term control medications to control asthma and prevent exacerbations and quick-relief medication for symptoms, as needed. EPR-3 also reaffirms that inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term control medication across all age groups. New recommendations on treatment options such as leukotriene receptor antagonists and cromolyn for long-term control; long-acting beta-agonists as adjunct therapy with inhaled corticosteroids; omalizumab for severe asthma; and albuterol, levalbuterol, and corticosteroids for acute exacerbations are included.
This article was published in J Allergy Clin Immunol
and referenced in Air & Water Borne Diseases