Asthma

Asthma is a major problem in Harrow and accounts for many hospital admissions and attendances at the emergency department for asthma attacks.

Dr Mark L Levy FRCGP, Respiratory Lead for Harrow CCG has provided some useful information for patients and clinicians. Please note the video above is a long presentation, as it contains lots of advice throughout.

Note: People with asthma should not use this information alone to help them manage their asthma. Always discuss your care with your own doctor.

Personal Asthma Action Plans (PAAPs)

In the UK National Review of Asthma Deaths (2014) less that half the people who died had called for help in their final attack. This was not surprising because most of these people had not been provided with a personal asthma action plan:

Everyone with asthma should have a personalised asthma action plan.

PAAPs enable people with asthma to understand how and when to take medication; and also to recognise when to call for help.

Someone who has been provided with a PAAP is four times less likely to be admitted to hospital with an asthma attack.

Personal Asthma Action Plans – information and resources:

PAAPs range from very simple instructions to fairly elaborate plans.

Everyone who has asthma must be aware that if the blue reliever inhaler is not having its usual effect; or if the blue reliever inhaler is needed more frequently than every four hours, then urgent medical help (i.e. same day) is needed.  

See the Asthma UK website for examples of PAAPs for adults and children 

See the Respiratory Futures site for a PAAP for children.  

Asthma Attacks or Flare-ups:

Asthma is an ongoing, chronic disease which is prone to flare-ups or attacks:

Asthma attacks are preventable in most cases.

Many people who have attacks need to be readmitted to hospital or treated again after a short time interval – mainly because they were not treated for long enough. 

Therefore, anyone who has had an asthma attack should see a doctor or nurse trained in asthma care within a few days of treatment. 

  • The main reason for this review is to determine how long the corticosteroid tablets need to be continued.
  • Also, so the person can be assessed in order to determine what caused the attack – for example it may be due to insufficient medication, or that the person has not been taking the medication or that the person is unable to use the inhaler device properly.

Resources for asthma: 

National Review of Asthma Death (NRAD) 

NRAD Launch event on YouTube

National Paediatric Asthma Collaborative

Global Initiative on Asthma (International asthma guideline) - particularly chapter 2 on assessment of asthma control

Global Initiative on Asthma (Pocket Guide)

BTS/SIGN Asthma Guideline

Global Initiative on Asthma (Pocket Guide – Children under 5)