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Asthma Patients

November 18, 2009

Patients with “difficult to treat” asthma often turn out not to be taking their medication regularly.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Self-sabotaging patients. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If an illness won’t respond to medication, maybe the patient isn’t taking it. That’s the upshot of a new study in Northern Ireland, led by Belfast City Hospital pulmonologist Liam Heaney. He and his colleagues looked at over 180 patients with hard-to-treat asthma, many of whom had been hospitalized. His team tested their blood for the meds, and checked to see if they’d picked up their prescriptions.

LIAM HEANEY (Belfast City Hospital, Northern Ireland):
Although they had denied, or not admitted to, not taking their medication, when presented with the data suggesting they hadn’t been picking up their prescriptions it became clear that that was in fact the case.

HIRSHON:
They found that a third of inhaler users weren’t taking enough; for oral steroid users, it was closer to half. Heaney says the same may apply to other seemingly stubborn illnesses. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.