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Be a control freak: Allergists outline new focus for asthmatics

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A Mayo Clinic allergist and colleagues representing the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology announce they are revising the old classification of asthma patients by disease severity to determine treatment and moving to a new expectation for all asthma patients: excellent symptom control. Complete or total control is also a realistic goal for a subset of patients, according to new guidelines for treating asthma published in the November issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"People with asthma can expect to control the asthma: not to have the asthma control them," says James Li, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic allergist and lead author of the paper. "It's all about asthmatics' quality of life: waking up in the middle of the night wheezing, constantly using rescue medications, having to excuse themselves from sports teams or needing to leave work due to an attack -- that's no life."

Dr. Li contends this is not just pie-in-the-sky thinking, but that these new goals can align with patients' disease reality. "It's definitely not only a goal and an ideal, but most people with asthma can have well or completely controlled asthma," he says. "People with asthma should not be satisfied with less than well or completely controlled asthma. We want to empower patients by letting them know this is the goal. We want them to know if they are not reaching this goal, they should see their doctors."

With the heretofore national practice guidelines for physicians treating asthmatics -- in use for about 15 years -- patients have been classified as having mild, moderate or severe asthma; treatment was based on disease severity.

"It's become clear, however, that there are limitations to this approach as asthma changes over time and individuals require different treatment," says Dr. Li. "The present classification of asthma severity tends to promote the e
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-2511
Mayo Clinic
24-Oct-2005


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