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Asthma: Take Control

A new ‘Asthma: Take Control’ campaign is urging people affected by asthma to commit to following the advice given by their healthcare professional to optimise health outcomes.

Launched by popular recording artists and asthma sufferer Kimbra and supported by Asthma Australia,  National Asthma Council Australia and GSK, has been launched following concern that up to 9 out of 10 Australians with asthma are not using their asthma inhaler correctly1. Common problems include holding the device inaccurately, failure to inhale correctly, or using empty or near empty inhalers2. Asthma outcomes are also affected when people do not take their medication as prescribed by their doctor, often an issue for patients juggling busy lives.

It has also been revealed that less than a quarter (24%) of people with asthma have a written asthma action plan3.

The Asthma: Take Conrol campaign encourages people to commit to improving their lung health in the form of a “commitment”. These commitments will be incorporated into the creation of a temporary art installation which will be on show in Melbourne’s Federation Square. The installation will be on show until 7 September, during Asthma Awareness Week.

Celebrity ambassador Kimbra has a personal reason for wanting to front the campaign, having experienced the effects of poor asthma control on her lifestyle and singing performance first hand.

“I’ve been dealing with asthma since I was a child and haven’t always had it under control. As a singer, being able to breathe easily and have my lungs functioning properly is crucial.  And as an artist who travels all the time for my shows there are times when my schedule and lifestyle get in the way of making my asthma management a priority. I know when I am careful with my medication and follow the advice of my doctor I can perform at my peak ability,” said Kimbra.

Mark Brooke, CEO of Asthma Australia, aid  asthma medicines can play a crucial role in reducing the impact of asthma on people’s lives. But we need people to take the medications as they are prescribed in order to get the full benefit. “Clinical trials show that the medicines work to control asthma by preventing symptoms, relieving symptoms and reducing asthma flare ups, but they will only work if patients work in partnership with their GP and take them in the way they were prescribed,” he added.

Respiratory Specialist Professor Jo Douglass from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne said “despite all the progress in the availability of effective asthma medicines in Australia many people with asthma are still not achieving the best possible health outcomes. “We hope that when patients leave the consulting room they will use the medicines as we have advised but this is too often not the case. I don’t think there has been enough attention given to helping patients adhere to the best way of using their medication once it has been prescribed. Good inhaler technique leads to the best benefits from asthma medications,” said Professor Douglass.

According to Professor Douglass there are a number of things patients can do that will help them control their asthma more effectively.

“First of all, talk to your GP, pharmacist or asthma nurse to ensure you are using your asthma medicines correctly. If you are taking an inhaler, make sure you know how to use it. Patients should have their asthma regularly reviewed by their doctor and discuss which treatments best suit them and the way they live their life”, said Professor Douglass.

The initiative will run through the month of September 2014.

People who are unsure about their asthma management should speak with a healthcare professional to check that they are managing their condition appropriately.