Asthmatic patients with reduced perception of dyspnoea (POD) may be at increased risk of experiencing a life-threatening exacerbation of their condition. It was found that patients with low POD had significantly more emergency department visits, hospitalisations, fatal asthma attacks and deaths during a 2 year study period than those with normal dyspnoea perception.
The patients with low POD tended to be older, female and generally had suffered from asthma for a longer period of time than the patients with normal or high POD. Low POD patients also used less beta-agonist medication than high POD patients. Fatal or near-fatal asthma is not always accompanied by severe symptoms and, therefore, some patients may not seek appropriate assistance.
The researchers studied 113 patients with stable asthma attending an outpatient clinic. The patients were asked to regular follow-up every three months for up to 2 years and were required to comply with recording daily peak flow measurements and treatments on a diary card for the first month.
Researchers found that patients with low POD were more likely to suffer from fatal and near-fatal asthma attacks than those with high or normal POD.The researchers said that patients identified with low POD should be monitored carefully and more often, and should be educated in self-management.