PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Seventeen million American adults struggle with asthma, a narrowing of the airways. For most, medication can help control the symptoms. But for about five percent of those patients, there is very little that really works. However, for the very first time, there is a surgical procedure that is helping these patients breathe easier.
“Baking is something me and my girls do a lot,” said Jenn McBride.
McBride, 38, spends a lot of time in the kitchen. For the first time in years, everyday activities don’t wear her out.
“I just couldn’t get through the day because I couldn’t breathe,” she detailed.
McBride had asthma since she was 21, but four years ago she got pneumonia. After that, no matter what doctors prescribed, her airways were often inflamed.
“From that point on, around every six weeks I would either come down with bronchitis or another case of pneumonia,” she said.
Anthony Zikos, D.O., FCCP, a pulmonologist at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offered another option, a new FDA-approved treatment called bronchial thermoplasty. During the procedure doctors put a bronchoscope and a flexible catheter through a patient’s mouth into the lungs to deliver radio frequency waves to the lining of the tissue.
“It’s approximately 65 degrees, thermal energy, and the idea is to decrease the muscle mass in the bronchial tree,” explained Dr. Zikos. (Read Full Interview)
With less muscle, the airway walls are less likely to contract during an asthma attack. Doctors perform three separate procedures, three weeks apart.
Deborah Gentile, M.D., Director of Asthma and Allergy Clinical Research at Allegheny Health Network, warned, “This isn’t for every asthmatic. This is for the worst of the worst that we can’t control.”
The procedure has kept McBride out of the doctor’s office and given her more time with her girls.
McBride told Ivanhoe, “Just to give you a better quality of life. It’s just amazing.”
Doctors say once the initial three sessions of thermoplasty are done, the procedure can’t be repeated because it’s still not clear what additional thermoplasty would do to the airway walls. Dr. Zikos said this isn’t a cure for asthma. Most patients will still require some medication to control symptoms.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.
MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS – RESEARCH SUMMARY
TOPIC: Real Relief for Serious Asthma
REPORT: MB #4182
BACKGROUND: Asthma is a chronic, long-term disease that affects 25 million people in the United States. This disease inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs causing recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The reason for why asthma occurs isn’t known. Some experts say it’s due to environmental and genetic factors, like having parents who also suffer from asthma, and inherited tendency to develop allergies, certain respiratory infections that occurred during childhood or exposure to some viral infections as an infant.
TREATMENTS: Sometimes the symptoms of asthma are mild and they go away on their own; but in other cases, the symptoms continue to get worse and that’s when an asthma attack occurs. Asthma has no cure, but there are some treatments that can make these attacks occur less often. This condition can be treated with two types of medicines: long-term control and quick-relief medicine. Long-term medicines reduce airway inflammation, which helps prevent symptoms from starting. Patients with asthma should take these medicines daily in order to prevent the symptoms, but, they do not help to alleviate the symptoms once they are present. The quick-relief medicines, on the other hand, relieve those symptoms. They act quickly to relax the muscles around the airways, allowing them to open up so air can flow through them. This medicine should only be used when the patient first notices asthma symptoms.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: For most patients, medication can help control the symptoms; but, for around 5 percent of the patients, there is very little that works. Now, there’s a new FDA- approved medical procedure that can help patients breathe easier called bronchial thermoplasty. During the procedure, doctors put a bronchoscope and a flexible catheter through the patient’s mouth into the lungs in order to deliver radio frequency waves to the lining of the lung tissue. The thermal energy is approximately 65 degrees and it’s used in order to reduce the muscle mass in the bronchial tree. With less muscle, the airway walls are less likely to contract during an asthma attack. In order to be successful, this procedure needs to be separated into three different sessions, three weeks apart. After these three sessions, the procedure can’t be repeated again since there’s no way of telling how much muscle was removed. Although this procedure doesn’t cure asthma itself, and it’s very likely that patients will still need to take long-term medications, the bronchial thermoplasty allows asthma patients to breathe easier, and have an improved quality of life.
(Source: Dr. Anthony Zikos)
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