An overview of chronic severe asthma
Most asthmatic patients with moderate to severe disease can be satisfactorily managed with a combination of inhaled corticosteroids and 2-agonists. However, there are a few with persistent symptoms, impaired quality of life and excessive health-care utilization, despite this management regimen. These patients often require frequent and even occasionally regular oral corticosteroid use. Chronic, severe asthma is a heterogeneous disease and a systematic diagnostic work-up may help to guide treatment and may even provide information about prognosis. Optimal treatment of chronic severe asthma (CSA) should achieve the best possible asthma control and quality of life with the least dose of systemic corticosteroids. The choice and formulation of therapeutic agent is dictated by the severity of disease and includes conventional, immunosuppressive/immunomodulating and biologic therapies. Unfortunately, current asthma management guidelines offer little contribution to the care of the challenging patient with CSA. In this review, a diagnostic and therapeutic overview of CSA is provided for the benefit of those who have a specific interest in this problematic condition.