Substantial Amount of Asthma-Related Emergency Department Visits Result From Intermittent Asthma Patients

PORTAGE, Mich. — A study presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) found that patients with intermittent asthma account for a substantial portion (48 percent) of asthma-related visits to the emergency department (ED).

"The number of asthma-related visits to the emergency department could be reduced if patients knew their triggers and minimized their exposure to those allergens that cause asthma attacks," said Leonard Fromer, MD, a family physician with a clinical practice specialty in allergy and asthma and assistant clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine. "Allergy diagnostic testing using a Specific IgE blood test is crucial to identify these triggers at the primary care level and manage patients effectively to prevent more serious complications like asthma."

Of the 20 million people who suffer from asthma, more than half (11 million) do not have their asthma under control. Each day, asthma patients are responsible for 5,000 emergency department visits, which contribute to health care expenditures for asthma estimated to be in excess of $6.2 billion.

This study evaluated pharmacy and diagnostic coding records of 202 adults (ages 19-85) that were treated for asthma in the emergency department between April and July 2002. Patients were stratified into asthma severity categories of intermittent or persistent. Intermittent asthma patients were defined as those who have had low usage of asthma controller and reliever medications or less than four asthma medication dispensings in the last year prior to their visit.

"Knowledge gained from a Specific IgE diagnostic tool like ImmunoCAP® allows asthma patients to make necessary adjustments to their environment to decrease their risk for asthma attacks and subsequent hospitalizations," said Dr. Fromer.

ImmunoCAP Specific IgE blood test is the first allergy test to be cleared by the FDA as a truly quantitative test for pinpointing allergens. Allergy blood testing is recognized by the National Institutes of Health for the management of patients with asthma. The ImmunoCAP technology works by measuring IgE antibodies to specific allergens in a small sample of blood. Specific IgE is produced as a result of sensitization to an allergen and increases with exposure to that substance.

This article originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of HME Business.

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