Asthma attacks (exacerbations) are common, accounting for over 90 000 UK hospital admissions per annum. They kill nearly 1500 people per year in the UK, have significant associated direct and indirect costs and lead to accelerated and permanent loss of lung function. The recognition of asthma as a heterogeneous condition with multiple phenotypes has revolutionised the approach to the long-term management of the condition, with greater emphasis on personalised treatment and the introduction of the treatable traits concept. In contrast asthma attacks are poorly defined and understood and our treatment approach consists of bronchodilators and systemic corticosteroids. This review aims to explore the current limitations in the description, assessment and management of asthma attacks. We will outline the risk factors for attacks, strategies to modify this risk and describe the recognised characteristics of attacks as a first step towards the development of an approach for phenotyping and personalising the treatment of these critically important events. By doing this, we hope to gradually improve asthma attack treatment and reduce the adverse effects associated with recurrent courses of corticosteroids.
- asthma mechanisms
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Contributors MJM wrote the first version of the manuscript. MJM, RB and TWH all contributed to revision of subsequent drafts of the manuscript and editing.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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