The updated Adolescent and Adult Asthma Guidelines, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today, represent a "fundamental change in asthma management", according to leading medical experts.
The Guidelines provide recommendations on the diagnosis and treatment of asthma in adults and adolescents aged 12 and above, and have been developed by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ), alongside a multidisciplinary group of respiratory health experts.
"The guidelines are designed to aid health professionals in delivering better asthma care to their patients, providing simple, practical, and evidence-based guidance," says Professor Richard Beasley, chair of the guidelines group and Director of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. "The recommendations are based on recent advances in knowledge, while also addressing asthma management’s greatest challenges: patient education, follow-up, compliance, and self-management."
The major change is the recommendation to use a single 2-in-1 inhaler, containing both a preventer and a reliever medicine, to treat asthma symptoms. This is based on clinical trials, which showed that a budesonide/formoterol inhaler, taken as needed, reduces the risk of a severe asthma attack by between 30 and 60% compared to usual reliever inhalers.
"It is important that asthma management in New Zealand is based on this evidence to ensure that patients receive the best possible care," says Professor Beasley. "Recalling patients who just use a blue reliever inhaler and replacing it with a combination inhaler should be the immediate priority for health professionals in New Zealand."
Joanna Turner, ARFNZ Research and Education Manager, is especially hopeful that the first ever NZ COPD Guidelines will soon follow, and pave the way for future projects.
"These guidelines are hugely important in a country where 1 in 7 children and 1 in 8 adults suffer with asthma," says Joanna, "but this is really just the start. We intend to bring the three main guidelines together (Child, Adolescent and Adult, and COPD) and get them out to the health community as the NZ Respiratory Guidelines, in the hope that they will lead to an improvement in respiratory health of New Zealanders.
"These guidelines align the latest research with specific New Zealand context, and will be used for patient action plans, as well as training courses and tools for health professionals."
For more information, or to access copies of the Guidelines, go to www.nzrespiratoryguidelines.co.nz