What You Need to Know About the New Asthma Guidelines
August 29, 2007
National guidelines aimed at helping doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists take better care of people with asthma have just been updated by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP), a part of the government’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The guidelines, which were last revised for selected topics back in 2002, are now fully evidence-based, which means the developers took the quality of the research used to form the guidelines into consideration as they came up with their recommendations. More than 15,000 studies were reviewed in the process.
While the guidelines are intended for medical professionals, Tom Kallstom, RRT, COO of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and long-time AARC representative to the NAEPP, says patients need to know about them too so they can make sure their health providers are using the latest medical evidence to treat their asthma.
“If I had asthma, or my child had asthma, what I would want to do is make sure the physician who is caring for myself or my child has a copy of the guidelines and has read it and understands it and is using portions of it or all of it in their practice,” says the Registered Respiratory Therapist. “The more well informed the clinician is, the better my care is going to be.”
Some patients may be reluctant to approach their doctors about the guidelines, but Kallstrom says asking physicians about the guidelines is no different than asking them about a new medication they’ve seen advertised on TV.
“Patients have a lot of power these days due to TV advertising for drugs and other medical products. So patients go back to their doctors and say, hey, I’d like to have this kind of medication,” he says. “This is the same thing: ask if they have copy of the guidelines and ask them if they follow them.”
What do these new guidelines say that’s different from the previous version? According to the NAEPP, the major changes include:
- First distinct treatment recommendations for children ages 5 to 11 years.
- Updated recommendations on medications.
- New approaches to monitoring asthma.
- Focus on patient education, self-monitoring, and written asthma action plans.
You can read more about the new guidelines in this press release issued by the NAEPP.