Experts call for better support and understanding of asthma

Leading experts in asthma have called for greater recognition and action amongst healthcare professionals and patients regarding the current status of asthma management across Europe.

The experts, attending a meeting chaired by Professor Stephen Holgate of the University of Southampton, identified key areas for improvement, including: effective control of airway inflammation through the use of more than one anti-inflammatory medication; improved patient education about airway inflammation; and better communication between patients and physicians regarding asthma symptoms, in order to achieve better asthma management and quality of life for many sufferers.

The two-day meeting entitled, "The MetaForum: Improving Asthma Therapy Through More Effective Control of Inflammation," was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant by Merck Sharp & Dohme and brought together more than 40 leading experts in asthma and its management.

Participants, including European physicians, educators and patient advocates from 17 countries, gathered to discuss and address the reasons for morbidity, mortality and quality of life for asthma patients despite the availability of clear guidelines and treatment options proven to be effective.

"Opportunities that allow the inclusion of opinion and recommendations from both those responsible for asthma management as well as those affected by it are extremely rare," said MetaForum chair Stephen Holgate, MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology, Division of Infection, Inflammation and Repair, University of Southampton School of Medicine. "The unique nature of this meeting has been vital in allowing us to establish exactly where and how improvements need to be made in order to treat asthma patients more effectively and help them achieve an ideal quality of life."

Currently, between 100 and 150 million people worldwide have asthma and the number is rising. In addition, deaths from asthma have reached 180,000 annually.

The economic and social costs of asthma are largely due to uncontrolled disease, and are likely to rise as its prevalence and severity increase and therefore improvement in disease control would substantially reduce costs.

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