Asthma: National review to reduce deaths
Landmark project coincides with new online test to highlight the risk of an asthma attack
1st February 2012 - A 12-month project is starting today to investigate the cause of asthma deaths across the UK. It's called the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) and was commissioned by the Government, and will be led by the Royal College of Physicians. For the first time in-depth details of asthma deaths in hospital and in the community will be collected to identify what can be done to improve care and reduce deaths in future.
Dr Mark Levy, clinical lead of the NRAD, told us that for nearly 50 years research has shown that most asthma deaths are potentially preventable. However, he hopes this large scale review will provide new information: "We're going into these deaths in much more detail than has been done before, in terms of looking at the process of care that's been provided and also by interviewing a hundred of the families we will hope to get information that hasn't been gleaned before."
He thinks that ultimately both patients and health professionals will benefit from the review.
Once in a generation opportunity
From today until 31st January 2013 health professionals and families will be asked to notify the NRAD team of any suspected asthma death. All healthcare staff who cared for the person with asthma will be asked to provide information from their records to the NRAD team, which will carry out an in-depth analysis.
Neil Churchill, Chief Executive Officer at Asthma UK, called the review a "once in a generation opportunity". In a press statement he said: "The importance of this National Review cannot be under-estimated. The UK has a higher death rate from asthma than other similar countries and we have been unable to reduce numbers significantly in recent years. This review will establish any patterns and risk factors that will help us prevent asthma deaths in the future."
Avoid Asthma Attacks
Three people die from asthma in the UK every day, and over 70% of these deaths are believed to be preventable. It's for this reason Asthma UK is launching a simple new online test called Triple A: Avoid Asthma Attacks, to help people with asthma assess their risk of a severe asthma attack and enable them to take steps to avoid it.
The Triple A test asks eight simple questions about factors which have all been linked to an increased risk of a serious asthma attack. The three most important questions are about inhaler use, steroids and recent hospital admissions.
Depending on the answers, participants will fall into one of three categories. These are colour coded like traffic lights, with red at highly increased risk down to green at no increased risk.
Each category gives health advice with links to web pages on how to control asthma symptoms, how to avoid an attack and what to do when having an asthma attack.
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said in a media statement: "Asthma attacks hospitalise someone every seven minutes and kill over 1,100 people every year, so they are not to be taken lightly.
"The test is designed to make people sit up, take notice and make changes to the way they manage their asthma if they are shown to be at an increased risk of an asthma attack. This kind of test for asthma has never been done before, but we’re confident it will prove an effective motivator to help reduce frightening and often unnecessary hospital admissions."