Web-Based Program Can Boost Asthma Care

In study, patients controlled severe disease using less medication

MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Better asthma symptom control might be a mouse click away, Dutch researchers report.

Patients who used a daily Web-based monitoring and dosing program maintained long-term control of severe asthma but needed a lower dosage of prednisone (an oral corticosteroid) to do so, the study found.

"We know that in patients with prednisone-dependent asthma it is important to adjust the daily dose of oral corticosteroids to the lowest possible level in order to reduce long-term side effects," Dr. Simone Hashimoto, a research fellow from the department of respiratory medicine of the University of Amsterdam, explained in a news release.

"Our study shows that a novel Internet-supported strategy including daily measurements of an objective marker of airway inflammation, FENO [exhaled nitric oxide levels], and supervision by an asthma nurse allows frequent adjustments of prednisone dose," Hashimoto added. The intervention also "leads to significant reduction of total corticosteroid consumption over a six-month study period, as compared with patients receiving usual care," the researcher said.

No diminishment of asthma control or patient quality of life was observed among the Internet-support group, the team noted.

Hashimoto and colleagues were slated to report their findings Sunday at the American Thoracic Society conference in New Orleans.

The finding stems from work with 89 patients diagnosed with severe asthma who for six months were divided into two groups: one receiving standardized care and the other offered Internet-supported daily monitoring of their condition.

Internet support required patients to log online about five minutes per day, during which they registered their daily symptoms, lung function, FENO levels, and the daily corticosteroid dosage taken. A specialized asthma nurse reviewed the entries, and on that basis once per week prescribed patients a new drug dosage level.

Bottom-line: After six months of Internet support, the research team found that oral corticosteroid use was "significantly lower" as compared with the standardized treatment group.

"Our findings suggest that this novel Internet-based strategy can and should be applied in all patients with severe prednisone-dependent asthma to reduce total corticosteroid consumption," Hashimoto said.

More information

There's more on better asthma care at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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