Results of the second Asthma G.A.P. in America II: General Awareness and Perceptions survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) uncovered many misperceptions in knowledge about asthma and its treatment. The nationwide telephone survey of 1,001 patients, conducted with support from AstraZeneca, found that 97% of asthma patients understand that uncontrolled asthma poses serious health risks, but 70% who had taken an asthma controller medicine halted their prescribed long-term treatment because they incorrectly believed their asthma was controlled.

“This survey shows there’s an alarming divide between what people know about their asthma and the actions they take to achieve optimal control of their asthma symptoms,” says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs for AAFA in an announcement on the findings. “Part of the problem may be that many patients believe their asthma is under control once they’re no longer experiencing symptoms.”

The survey included 300 physicians and showed that eight in 10 physicians are concerned that if their patients stop their asthma-controller medications, they may face serious consequences, including frequent, unexpected trips to the emergency room.

Other findings of the survey include:
•    42% of patients surveyed believe that when asthma symptoms subside, their controller medicine can be taken less regularly

•    71% of respondents report they stopped controller medications because they only take them when they have asthma symptoms

Of the patients surveyed who stopped taking their controller medications in the past 12 months experienced a sudden asthma episode that led to:
•    17% an emergency doctor visit
•    12% missed work
•    12% an emergency room visit or some
•    15% other serious health consequence

“There is a clear need for more physician-to-patient education about asthma control and appropriate therapies,” says study author Reynold A. Panettieri, MD, from the University of Pennsylvania. “The first step to asthma control is for patients and physicians to create an asthma action plan, which may include a controller therapy.