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Study: Bronchial thermoplasty can aid asthma hospitalizations

Bronchial Thermoplasty May Reduce Asthma Attacks

A new five-year study revealed that asthma patients may require fewer hospital visits when treated using heat that removes the excess smooth muscle that is linked to severe asthma exacerbations. This treatment is known as bronchial thermoplasty (BT).

Following initial treatment, patients in the study were found to have fewer severe asthma attacks requiring hospitalization. BT treatment resulted in a 32% decrease in exacerbations and an 84% reduction in visits to the emergency department. BT also led patients to miss 66% fewer days from work or school than before treatment.

BT may offer an important alternative to chronic prednisone treatments which may cause weight gain or the development of diabetes mellitus in patients. Though not the cheapest of therapies, BT may be more cost-effective in improving the quality of life for asthma sufferers. By causing fewer visits to the hospital, it may also lower medical costs long-term.

In the United States, nearly 26 million people are diagnosed with asthma. Roughly 456,000 hospitalizations occur each year as a result of asthma attacks. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that exacerbations also cause 14 million physician visits and 2 million visits to the emergency department each year.

BT is a minimally invasive treatment administered by pulmonary specialist. The specialist is certified to perform BT treatments which successfully help 80% of patients to reduce the number of asthma attacks requiring hospitalization.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of BT in patients for whom inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists (LABAs) proved insufficient for managing asthma attacks.

When receiving BT treatment, the patient is first sedated. A bronchoscope is then inserted through the patient’s mouth or nose and a catheter placed in the airway. The tip of the catheter is heated to 149 degrees Fahrenheit to remove smooth muscle that contributes to exacerbations. The heat widens passages in the airway, helping to reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks. The treatment is administered for 30 to 50 minutes once every three weeks for a total length of nine weeks.

BT treatments may not prove successful in all patients, but administration of the treatment is deemed safe through careful, repeated study and should not result in harm to the asthma sufferer. Those for whom the treatment is successful generally have a higher quality of health and comfort in managing asthma attacks.

 

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