Kay Boycott, Chief Executive at Asthma UK says: "We welcome the development of the NICE guideline which aims to help diagnose asthma. Anything which helps a doctor build a more complete picture of a person with suspected asthma is welcome, though tests for a definitive diagnosis of asthma are still a long way off.
"Asthma has many complex causes which is why it is very difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. It is also a highly variable condition that can change throughout someone's life or even week by week, meaning treatment also needs to change over time. For example, people whose asthma is triggered by pollen may have no symptoms during an annual asthma review in winter and diagnostic tests might show completely different readings than if they had the same tests in summer. It's important people with asthma work in partnership with their GP or nurse to build a complete picture of their asthma to tailor their treatment. The annual asthma review meeting is the bedrock of asthma care to ensure people with asthma get the right medication and know when to use it, and yet last year over 1 million people skipped this vital appointment.
"The claim today by NICE that 1.2 million adults may be receiving the wrong treatment is based on small scale studies. It is vital that no one with an asthma diagnosis stops taking their medication on the basis of this information, without discussions with their doctor."
About Asthma UK
- Asthma UK's mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.
- Asthma UK is solely funded by public donations.
- The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
- For more information about asthma please visit www.asthma.org.uk
Background information on asthma
- In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
- The UK has amongst the highest prevalence rates for asthma in Europe, according to the European Compean Community Respiratory Health Survey.
- The UK still has some of the highest asthma death rates in Europe. According to the Death rates (all ages) for OECD nations the UK rate for 2010 was1.6 per 100,000 of population, the third highest in Europe after Estonia (3.1) and Spain (1.8)
- Three people die every day because of asthma; based on mortality data from Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England & Wales, General Register Office for Scotland, and Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency (Northern Ireland). 1255 people died from asthma in 2013 divided by 365, this works out as 3.4 people per day.
- Tragically, the National Review of Asthma Deaths found that two thirds of asthma deaths are preventable with good, basic care.
- 8 out of 10 people with asthma do not receive care that meets the most basic clinical standards. Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research (AUKCAR) is conducting further research on regional disparities in asthma care.