The six-step asthma management plan remains the blueprint for outlining the principles of asthma management in Australia. Optimising medication, writing an action plan, and educating and regularly reviewing patients form the last three steps of this plan; they are discussed in the final part of this article on the general practice management of asthma.
- Effective asthma treatment reduces the morbidity and mortality associated with asthma, improves quality of life and helps maintain lung function by controlling the underlying inflammatory process in the airways.
- In moderate to severe asthma, inhaled corticosteroids are the medications of greatest efficacy. Long acting bronchodilators have an important role in addition to inhaled corticosteroids in the management of moderate to severe asthma.
- Recent evidence indicates that ownership of a written action plan is associated with a reduced risk of death from asthma and that verbal information alone does not confer similar benefit.
- Patients should participate in the process of formulating an action plan, tailored to their preferences – either peak flow or symptom based – and to their previous history.
- Asthma education is a long term process – it is not simply a matter of giving information at a single visit, but of enhancing patients’ ability to manage their asthma to their best advantage, optimising medication use and control of trigger factors.