New asthma treatment reducing hospital visits for asthma patients



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Posted on May 20, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Imagine gasping for air because you can't catch your breath. It's a reality for many people with asthma, but now a new drug-free treatment may help more patients avoid trips to the hospital.

Asthma attacks send two million Americans to the ER every year. Margot Sidener is one of them.

"I don't think anything is more frightening than not being able to breathe," said Sidener.

Now patients like Sidener have a new treatment option developed by Asthmatx and just approved by the FDA.

 It's called bronchial thermoplasty. During an outpatient procedure, a device is inserted through a tube in the nose or mouth. It sends radiofrequency energy, which heats the lungs and shrinks the muscle inside, dramatically reducing the airway's ability to close down.

"We saw in our pivotal study a 32 percent reduction in severe asthma attacks and an 84 percent reduction in ER visits," said Glen French, CEO of Asthmatx.

Sidener had to resort to the strong oral steroid prednisone to control her asthma attacks, which caused weight gain and weakened her immunity. The new treatment may help wean patients off and finally say goodbye to those powerful meds and all their side effects.

"For people with uncontrolled asthma, this has a lot of promise, these are people who cannot get their asthma under control without medication," said Sidener.

This new treatment may help those who suffer the most breathe easier.  So far, the procedure is only approved for adults.

Swedish Medical Center participated in the trials and is currently the only hospital in the region offering this treatment.

More information:

Swedish Thoracic Surgery