It is estimated that nearly half a million New Zealanders take medication for asthma, including approximately 1 in every 9 adults.
With the right treatment and education, symptoms including wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing can usually be prevented.
Despite this, more than one New Zealander dies per week from asthma and many more suffer daily because of asthma symptoms.
New guidelines have now been introduced by New Zealand experts specifically for kiwis with asthma to help reduce these statistics.
The New Zealand asthma management guidelines were launched as part of the 2016 respiratory conference, 24-25 November.
It’s been nearly 15 years since new guidelines were introduced and there have been important changes to the way we treat asthma says Waikato District Health Board (DHB) respiratory specialist, Dr Cat Chang.
“One key area of new asthma management is the development of combining maintenance and relief therapy into a single inhaler. Until now, patients had to use at least two different inhalers: one, or sometimes two, inhalers for maintenance treatment and another for symptom relief.
“Our Waikato Respiratory Unit are collaborating with other centres in New Zealand and globally in the NovelSTART study that has the potential to improve people’s lives with a simple yet more effective treatment plan for their asthma.
“We still have a lot of unanswered questions about the best use of combination inhalers and we rely on local asthma volunteers to help us answer them and advance the best possible care.”
The Waikato Respiratory Unit need volunteers with asthma who currently use the blue reliever inhaler to test the theory that asthma control can be improved by taking a single combination inhaler when needed; over the traditional approach of taking preventer inhalers every day and using a separate inhaler for asthma symptoms.
The study runs for 12 months and involves around 7 visits to the hospital. Participants will receive study related medication free of charge and be reimbursed for reasonable travel costs for each study visit.
More about Waikato Respiratory Unit
The Waikato Respiratory Research Unit was established in the late 1990s to address important research questions for people with respiratory disease. It conducts studies both independently and in collaboration with other national and international centres. Results have been published in prestigious journals such as the Lancet and the British Medical Journal. It relies on the help of volunteers with respiratory diseases to run these studies. These volunteers help to advance scientific knowledge and improve treatment for everyone. Volunteers on research studies are monitored closely and one of the benefits of volunteering is getting careful assessments of lung health and access to lung function tests.