Asthma is a complex and multifactorial chronic inflammatory respiratory disease that affects the air passages in the lungs by causing airway inflammation, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and intermittent narrowing/constriction of the airways, which makes breathing difficult. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), asthma affects patients of all ages but commonly manifests during childhood and is believed to be one of the most commonly occurring noncommunicable and costly diseases affecting both pediatric and adult patients.

While advancements in research provide insight into the complex and multifaceted pathogenesis, asthma remains a critical public health issue in the United States and globally. Left undiagnosed and unmanaged, asthma is associated with numerous health and economic challenges for patients/caregivers and the healthcare system. Asthma can negatively impact patients’ health-related quality of life; contributes to loss of productivity in the workplace and school setting; and is correlated with substantial rates of morbidity, hospitalizations, and mortality, especially in patients with poorly controlled asthma. Asthma is also the principal cause of emergency department/urgent care, hospital admissions, and school absenteeism among pediatric patients.

Although there are several therapies available for the treatment of asthma, many patients still experience suboptimal control of their disease, with estimates of the frequency of suboptimal control of symptoms ranging from 50% to 70% in the United States. Examples of factors that may contribute to suboptimal asthma control include low compliance to therapy, poor inhaler technique executed by patient/caregiver, fear of adverse effects, patient perceptions/beliefs about the disease and treatments, behavioral or lifestyle factors (i.e., the patient continues to smoke), exposure to environmental triggers, sedentary lifestyle, other chronic diseases, lack of access to routine healthcare, and inability to afford medications.

The principal goals for managing asthma are optimizing control of asthma symptoms, diminishing the risk of asthma flare-ups/exacerbations, and preserving lung function while preventing or diminishing adverse effects related to medications. Due to their frequent interactions with patients, pharmacists can be instrumental in educating patients about asthma, the proper use of selected therapies—especially counseling patients about appropriate inhaler techniques—identifying and managing adverse effects and optimizing clinical outcomes by reminding patients about the critical nature of adherence and routine monitoring.

To expand education initiatives among healthcare providers and patients about the significance of implementing patient-centered approaches to effectively treat and manage asthma to decrease the risk of morbidity and mortality, the GINA has declared May 7, 2024, as World Asthma Day 2024. The theme for 2024 is Asthma Education Empowers. More information can be found here.

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