World Asthma Day: Do you have an asthma action plan?

The Canadian Lung Association urges people with asthma to talk to their doctor about a written asthma action plan.

Today is World Asthma Day, and the Canadian Lung Association encourages people with asthma to talk to their doctor or health-care provider about a written asthma action plan – a simple yet powerful tool.

“An action plan is a personalized asthma tool that people can use to keep their asthma under good control,” says Jan Haffner, a certified respiratory educator. ”It’s upsetting that so many people are needlessly suffering from asthma attacks. Good asthma management can prevent attacks and keep the asthma under control and using a written asthma action plan is part of that.”

In Canada, uncontrolled asthma a leading cause of hospitalization for children. “This is a strong signal that their asthma is not well managed,” says Haffner, who is also vice-president of the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

The Canadian Thoracic Society asthma guidelines recommend that everyone should have a written action plan for asthma treatment. Dr. Diane Lougheed, Chair of the CTS Asthma Assembly emphasizes “All patients with asthma should receive education about how they can control their disease. Studies have shown that people who use a written asthma action plan as part of guided self-management which includes asthma education and regular follow-up appointments have fewer hospitalizations, emergency room visits, missed days at work or school, and days of restricted activity.”

New research from the University of Montreal shows that many children are leaving the emergency room without a written action plan and without an understanding of how to correctly take their medication.

Most children do not use their asthma control drug effectively, and this usually does not improve after an emergency room visit for an asthma attack. “However, our research shows that, even in the emergency room setting where little time is available to provide education, providing a written action plan to patients significantly improved adherence to prescribed asthma medication and to doctors’ recommendations,” says Dr. Francine Ducharme, of the University of Montreal’s Department of Pediatrics and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre.

The writing of action plan offers an additional advantage – it helps emergency doctors prescribe appropriately, in accordance to national asthma guidelines.

“Considering its considerable benefit at low cost, I recommend that doctors provide an action plan before a patient is discharged after an emergency room visit or hospital admission, and after each preventive visit for asthma,” says Dr. Ducharme, who is a member of the Canadian Thoracic Society, the medical section of the Canadian Lung Association.

Asthma action plans help you achieve and maintain good asthma control and tell you the signs and symptoms that your asthma may be uncontrolled. An asthma action plan tells you:

– What your symptoms mean
– How to adjust your reliever and controller medication
– When to seek help/medical attention

“The more you know about your asthma, the more you can keep it under control. Work with your health care team to get your asthma under control. Learn what triggers your asthma, how to use your asthma medication properly and ask for an asthma action plan,” says Haffner.

For more information please contact:

Jonathan Dyer
Manager of Health Initiatives
443-8141 ext. 25


E. Paige McCormick
Manager of Communications
443-8141 ext. 29





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