Kiwis not coping with asthma - survey

A survey of New Zealand asthma sufferers has found more than half are not keeping on top of their condition.

With the peak asthma season fast approaching, researcher and respiratory physician Dr Shaun Holt recommended people consult their doctor about establishing a new treatment regime.

Dr Holt said results of a recent survey, completed in August 2007, were compared with those from a similar study conducted in 2001 and "nothing's improved in six years".

The recent survey showed 76 per cent were using their inhaler at least daily, with a third puffing three or four times a day.

International guidelines suggested best practice was to use inhalers no more than two or three times a week.

"This shows how many patients are still not correctly managing their asthma, despite years of education. A different approach is needed," Dr Holt said.

There is already a wealth of educational material available to patients , encouraging them to avoid things which trigger attacks, to take preventative medication and to be visit the doctor regularly.

"It's the stuff that people have been saying for years," Dr Holt said.

"But what I would say is that sometimes managing asthma can be horribly complicated.

"People have lots of different inhalers, they have instructions for each one, they have to do the peak flow."

The survey found just half the respondents had an asthma management plan, and half again actually stuck to it.

"I think we have got to look at simpler approaches and there is one, it's been around for a year or so."

Dr Holt recommended the Symbicort SMART Asthma Action Plan.

"The beauty is you just use one inhaler. The current system is so complicated that asthma nurses will spend an hour with a patient and they'll come out totally bamboozled. I think this is the main reason people struggle."

- NZPA

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