Research finds encouraging trends in B.C.’s approach to severe asthma

Fewer patients were prescribed maintenance oral corticosteroids over time, and slightly more used them periodically.

Changes in treatment approaches for people with severe asthma have ushered in a new era for this patient population, and one that could see decreased negative side effects from long-term oral corticosteroid (OCS) use, according to research led by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute investigator Dr. Mohsen Sadatsafavi.

“I hope that these results will encourage policymakers to continue to work towards further reducing maintenance OCS use, and for other researchers to pursue additional studies to monitor the use and impact of medications such as biologics.”

Asthma is a condition without a cure. Although many patients’ symptoms will be controlled with medications, around 2.4 to 4 per cent have severe symptoms that often require treatment with inhaled, ingested or injected corticosteroids, as well as other medications. 

OCS is a well-established and trusted anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by clinicians for the maintenance treatment of severe asthma and acute attacks. However, when taken regularly—what clinicians call maintenance OCS use—over a long period of time, it can lead to negative side effects such as weight gain, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, diabetes, cataracts and osteoporosis. 

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