25 million American’s and at least 350 million people, world wide, are known to suffer from asthma. For most people, asthma can be controlled with medication. Asthmatics often need multiple medications, such as high amounts of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists. Medications, known as bronchodilators, such as albuterol, serve to relax the airway muscles and allow the airway to widen so asthmatics can breathe. Yet, for the 5%-10% of asthmatics whose condition is severe, breathing is difficult, even with a doctor’s help. For those who don’t respond to traditional therapy new interventional procedures, such as bronchial thermoplasty, are now being considered to modify the bronchial smooth muscle and related anatomy of the airways.
The smooth muscle of the Bronchus is responsible for producing coughs and expectorating debri from the lungs. Severe Asthmatics are known to have an inordinate amount of Bronchial Smooth Muscle, which is believed to be a congenital remnant and/or the result of muscle hypertrophy (enlargement). Bronchial smooth muscle is a radial (ie. tubular) muscle that also contains nerves. Bronchial smooth muscle in the severe asthmatic tends to overreact to asthma triggers. Consequently, the constant contraction enlarges the smooth muscle, creating a hyper spasticity that further narrows the airway’s diameter, making it difficult to get air into the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath, hospitalization and death.
CURRENT TREATMENT OPTIONS
o Long-Term Control
§ Inhaled corticosteroids with or without a long- acting beta-agonist
§ Leukotriene inhibitors
o Acute symptoms
§ Short-intravenous steroids
• Bronchial Thermoplasty