Drop in GP visits for asthma attacks could be due to people coping with them alone at home, says Asthma UK

Responding to a study published in Thorax today which links lockdown to a drop in asthma attacks across England during the first lockdown, Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Innovation at Asthma UK said: 

“The pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for people’s mental and physical health and this research highlights the importance of understanding how lockdown can affect people with respiratory conditions such as asthma.  

“We know that the temporary drop in air pollution levels and reduction in people picking up the flu during the first lockdown could have caused a reduction in the number people experiencing asthma attacks. However, there has been a decrease in the number of people having GP appointments for asthma and many of our supporters have told us they were afraid to seek help during the pandemic. Also, we cannot assume that because GPs are seeing fewer patients with asthma attacks that people aren’t experiencing them as our previous research shows that 66.7% of people with asthma who had an asthma attack dealt with it at home.  

“We would urge anyone who is worried about their asthma symptoms or who has had an asthma attack to speak to their GP and get help at an early stage. It is also vital that the NHS ensures everyone with asthma can get an appointment when they need it.”  

Notes to editor:  

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation conducted an online survey between 10th July and 15th July. It gained 7085 responses in England. It found that 38.9% of people with asthma told us they had had an exacerbation since the start of lockdown. Of that group, 66.7% managed it themselves.