Vitamin D Could Potentially Benefit Asthmatics

vitamin d

FoxNews recently posted an article that discusses new research in regards to Vitamin D’s effect on asthmatics. The study, conducted in Iran, gave supplements of Vitamin D to asthmatics for 6 months. The patients had better lung function and were able to breath easier.

However, Dr. Mario Castro, a professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Washington School of Medicine, said that the study didn’t measure the effect on symptoms which is equally, if not more, important.

The study, conducted at the Medical University in Tehran, examined 130 children and adults with mild to moderate asthma. It was published in  Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The study, if done in a larger spectrum and measured additional factors, could provide doctors more information regarding Vitamin D and asthma.

Asthma sufferers who received vitamin D supplements for six months, in addition to their regular inhalers, could breathe a little easier than those who relied only on the inhalers, in a recent study in Iran.

The researchers say the results – if confirmed by larger studies – might help the many people who sometimes have troublesome asthma symptoms even though they use medication.

“It does build some on the growing amount of data that shows vitamin D might help those affected by asthma,” Dr. Mario Castro, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health.

But Castro, a professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, pointed out that the researchers only measured patients’ lung function, and not whether or not their symptoms improved.

“Given that vitamin D is a relatively benign supplement,” the small improvement in lung function “would be worthwhile if it was confirmed with other improvements in asthma control,” he said, such as fewer symptoms or a reduced need for medication.

About one in 12 individuals, or 25 million people, have asthma in the U.S. alone. In the last decade, the number of people with asthma has grown by about 15 percent.

Higher rates of asthma in northern climates have led some researchers to suspect that less sunlight – and therefore less vitamin D – could be playing a role. Several studies have shown a link between low vitamin D levels and asthma.

The new study, by Dr. Saba Arshi at the Medical University of Tehran and colleagues, involved 130 children and adults with mild-to-moderate asthma.

Everyone received asthma medication in a dry powder inhaler (budesonide, sold in the U.S. as Pulmicort, or budesonide plus formoterol, sold in the U.S. as Symbicort).

In addition, half the group was randomly chosen to receive high doses of vitamin D for six months. The first dose, 100,000 units, was given by injection; then patients were instructed to take 50,000 units orally once a week.

After eight weeks, when the researchers measured the amount of air patients could exhale in one second, both groups had improved to roughly the same extent. But after 28 weeks, that amount had improved by about 20 percent in the patients who received vitamin D supplements, versus about 7 percent among those who only used the inhaler.

The authors did not respond to questions about the study, which was published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Castro thinks the patients in the study weren’t particularly deficient in vitamin D.

“This is another weakness as they enrolled patients with normal vitamin D levels, so (they’re) unlikely to see a treatment effect,” Castro said.

He would not recommend that patients with asthma take vitamin D supplements based on this study and one of his own studies, though his research found some people with deficient levels improved after supplementation.

Dr. Doug Brugge, a professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston, said he thought the study added to the field of asthma and vitamin D research.

“I think it adds some evidence that vitamin D may be beneficial in terms of treating asthma, which in turn contributes some evidence that vitamin D is a factor in asthma,” Brugge, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters Health.

He noted that most asthma research has focused on children, but this one included adults. “There really is a need for more research on asthma in adults,” he said.

But Brugge, who has studied the possible environmental causes of childhood asthma, said the study would have been more convincing if researchers had checked whether patients took their medication as prescribed (other than asking by phone) and included any exposure to environmental triggers of asthma.

“It leaves a little doubt in my mind . . . what if the intervention group was adhering to the medication more than the control group? I think it’s unlikely but it would have been nice to see that a little more clearly addressed,” said Brugge.

“Adherence is a big problem,” said Brugge, referring to medication use in general. “Non-adherence is more common than adherence.”

Brugge too thinks more studies are needed before anyone can assume that vitamin D would help people with asthma.

“I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis and their study and some other studies provide evidence it might be true. But I don’t think it’s proven yet,” said Brugge.

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Non-Adherence Biggest Issue in Asthma Management Today

Adherence to medication is the main method of prevention in chronic asthma cases. Asthma symptoms can be suppressed rather successfully with a consistent approach to medication usage. Neglecting to follow a medication regime is one of leading causes of hospitalization and even death for asthma sufferers. BBC published a recent study showing that almost one third of asthma patients in the U.K miss important hospital check-ups. This prevents doctors and healthcare professionals from being able to monitor their patients. Studies also show that a similar percentage of asthma patients in the U.S do not show up to their medical check-ups.

More than a million people suffering from asthma are missing out on key yearly checks. New analysis by charity Asthma UK found that 31% of asthma patients did not receive an “essential” annual review to check whether they are on the right medicine.

The charity said that its review of GP data for 2012/13 showed that there were 3,359,612 people in England who should have received an asthma review but 1,025,539 patients missed out.

NHS guidance suggests that everyone with asthma should get an annual review, an asthma action plan and their inhaler technique checked.

“With the worrying scale of prescribing errors identified by the National Review of Asthma Deaths, it’s vital that doctors and nurses do everything they can to follow up with patients to review their medicines, especially as asthma can vary hugely over the year.

“There is also an unacceptably large variation in the numbers of people attending annual reviews, which ranges from only 52% to 79% across the UK,” a spokeswoman said.

Read the original article here.

Geckocap is a better method to manage your asthma medication. Find out more here

Study: Asthma Inhaler use in Children Stunts Growth

Child with inhaler

The Guardian recently covered two asthma studies regarding inhaler usage and growth in children. The studies were conducted by Francine Ducharme, a pediatrician at the University of Montreal. The first study analyzed published inhaler usage trials of over 8,400 children. Results showed that the growth rate for children under 18 without steroid usage exceeded the growth rate for children using steroids by approximately half a centimeter per year.

The second study followed children who were taking medication doses between 50 to 200 micrograms of inhalable steroids. The children who took higher doses were at an increased risk of stunted growth.

Children who use inhalable steroids for asthma grow slower than their peers in the first year of taking the medication, researchers say.

But doctors said the effect was so small it was easily outweighed by the clear benefits of taking the drugs, which prevent serious asthma attacks and even deaths from the breathing disorder.

Children who used the common corticosteroids to alleviate their asthma symptoms grew on average half a centimetre less over the course of a year, compared with children who did not take the medicine.

The steroids seemed to affect children’s growth only in the first year and had even less of an impact on their growth rate when used in low doses of no more than 100 micrograms.

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New Inhaled Drug Could Potentially Relieve Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

WebMDreports a new drug called quilizumab has the potential to treat mild asthma and allergy symptoms. The drug, targets blood cells that produce immunoglobulin type E (IgE), a protein that causes allergic reactions. In an initial study, the drug reduced total levels of IgE in patients suffering from mild asthma or allergic reactions. The levels of IgE were kept low for a month on the drug. Results also show that production of IgE was not only reduced but stopped in some cases. In early stages of testing, the drug only seems to be working with mild asthma and not with moderate to severe cases. Quilizumab is aiming to replace its rival, omalizumab, which requires one to three injections every two to four weeks. Quilizumab, on the other hand, only requires one inhalation approximately every three months.

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A new inhaled medication has the potential to treat mildasthma andallergies by interrupting the production of an immune system protein that triggers allergic reactions, a new study reports.

The drug, quilizumab, targets the blood cells that produce a protein called immunoglobulin type E (IgE), that serves a key role in allergies.

Quilizumab lowered total levels of IgE in theblood of people with allergies and mild asthma, and kept them low for a month, researchers report in the July 2 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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Self Reported Asthma Rate Drops

The Center for Disease Control conducts an annual survey to discover the self-reported U.S asthma rate. Results indicate a significant drop in asthma to a nine year low. 7.4% of the U.S population reported an asthma diagnoses compared to a fairly consistent rate at approximately 8.5% since 2009. The CDC is not completely convinced, having surveyed 47,000 people last year, and they are hesitant to declare its decline. Asthma is a chronic illness affecting around 3 million children and adults in the United States. One of the leading causes of asthma deaths is attributed to a lack of medication adherence.

(Reuters) – Self-reported U.S. asthma rates have fallen significantly for the first time in four years to a nine-year low, according to a survey released on Thursday, but researchers cautioned that the numbers may not mean the disease is dwindling.

About 7.4 percent of the U.S. population reported having asthma in 2013, down from a level that has hovered around 8.5 percent since 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found.

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Common Colds During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood Asthma

According to a recent study published in the February issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, women must be extra careful to stay “cold free” during their pregnancy. Researchers examined 513 pregnant women in Germany and their children. The women filled out questionnaires in increments until the children reached the age of five. By controlling variables such as the presence of pets in the house, results show that women who had a cold three or more times during pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child who develops asthma before the age of 5.

“Women that are pregnant may want to take extra precaution around those that are sniffling and sneezing this winter. According to a new study published today, the more common colds and viral infections a woman has during pregnancy, the higher the risk her baby will have asthma.

The study, published in the February issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, found a mother’s infections and bacterial exposure during pregnancy affect the in utero environment, thus increasing a baby’s risk of developing allergy and asthma in childhood.

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Videogames and Healthcare

Videogames are becoming an integral part of education, work and health. Companies are designing new ways to keep their employees motivated, and are providing similar options to students. Furthermore, non-adherence in healthcare is being targeted as an area that videogames, or gamification is particular, can improve upon.

A recent article from imedicalapps.com discusses LiteSprite, a company that developed an anti-anxiety application called SinaSprite. LiteSprite was the winner of the Games to Generate Data Challenge competition by Games for Health. The article covers an interview with Swatee Surve, the CEO and David Hazel, Technical Advisor.

Hopefully, the days of bland patient information and mind-numbingly dull educational videos will soon be behind us. Increasingly, people are recognizing games as a way to better engage patients for educational and therapeutic purposes. These include mainstream consumer titles like the Wii Fit to specialized applications like laparoscopic surgical simulations and physical rehabilitation. In the past decade, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — a philanthropy whose aim is to improve healthcare — has provided grants and guidance for Games for Health and related initiatives. Their most recent competition, the Games To Generate Data Challenge, targets population health.

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