WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- People with mild asthma that is well-controlled with twice-daily use of inhaled steroids may be able to reduce inhaler use to once a day or switch to a daily pill according to new research conducted at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and 20 other centers.
"This is good news for patients with mild, persistent asthma because it gives them more choices about how to manage their disease," said Stephen P. Peters, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and a professor of pediatrics, internal medicine-pulmonary and associate director of the Center for Human Genomics.
The study, involving 500 children and adults with mild asthma, was conducted by the American Lung Associations Asthma Clinical Research Centers. Its goal was to determine if patients whose symptoms are well controlled on twice daily inhaled corticosteroid can "step down" their medication use. The results are reported in the May 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Asthma is considered mild, but persistent, when symptoms occur more than two times a week or cause the patient to awaken during the night more than twice a month. The standard treatment for mild-persistent asthma is twice-daily use of an inhaled steroid to prevent symptoms. Patients may also take additional drugs such as the inhaler albuterol, known as "rescue" therapy, to treat symptoms. A majority of people with asthma have mild disease, according to Peters.
The study involved patients whose asthma was treated with twice-daily inhaled fluticasone propionate (Flovent Discus), a commonly prescribed synthetic steroid. This drug is designed to suppress inflammation within the airways that can cause narrowing.
Study participants were randomly divided into three groups. One group continued to take Flovent twice a day for 16 weeks. Two other groups took alternative therapies: either a combination of fluticasone propionate and salmeterol in a single inhaler (Advair Di
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center