Study Reveals Game Changing Procedure For Preventing Severe Asthma Attacks

Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, affecting roughly one in 13 people here.

People with asthma experience an allergic reaction in response to irritants entering the lungs, causing the airways to swell and constrict, and limiting oxygen intake (via Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America). Coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness are common symptoms associated with the condition, and without proper treatment, an asthma attack can be life-threatening. While there is no cure for asthma, current treatment options include the use of quick-relief inhalers, daily medications, and intravenous corticosteroids (via Mayo Clinic).

An estimated 3.6% of all adults diagnosed with asthma, however, suffer from severe refractory asthma, or uncontrollable asthma that does not respond to traditional treatment methods (via Healthline). But a new study has found that a device-based treatment method known as bronchial thermoplasty shows promise in treating adult patients with severe asthma.

Bronchial thermoplasty as a potential treatment option for severe asthma

Bronchial thermoplasty is a surgical procedure involving the use of an electrode device to "heat the insides of the airways in the lungs," according to the Mayo Clinic. This procedure helps decrease the size of airway muscles, leaving more room for airflow. The 2021 study published in the scientific journal CHEST looks at the long-term effects of bronchial thermoplasty after five years. In an examination of over 200 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 in the U.S. and Canada, the effectiveness of the procedure was to be determined based on the number of participants still utilizing oral corticosteroids, frequency of hospital visits, and the number of severe asthma attacks experienced up to five years following the procedure in comparison to before the procedure.

As reported by HealthDay, it was found that patient use of oral corticosteroids dropped from 19.4% before the study began to 9.7% when measured five years later. In addition, the frequency of severe asthma attacks dropped by 35.1%, hospitalization rates dropped from 16.1% to just under 5%, and emergency department visits fell from 29.4% to 7.9%.

While there are short-term side effects associated with the surgery, and although it may not be an appropriate solution for all asthma patients, study author Dr. Geoffrey Chupp believes this research lends a hand toward future studies that could help better determine patient candidacy for the procedure (via HealthDay).