Determining asthma treatment by monitoring sputum cell counts: effect on exacerbations
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One important goal of asthma treatment is to reduce exacerbations. The current authors investigated if the use of sputum cell counts to guide treatment would achieve this goal. A total of 117 adults with asthma were entered into a multicentre, randomised, parallel group-effectiveness study for two treatment strategies over a 2-yr period. In one strategy (the clinical strategy: CS) treatment was based on symptoms and spirometry. In the other (the sputum strategy: SS) sputum cell counts were used to guide corticosteroid therapy to keep eosinophils250 microg, and was due to fewer eosinophilic exacerbations. The cumulative dose of corticosteroid during the trial was similar in both groups. Monitoring sputum cell counts was found to benefit patients with moderate-to-severe asthma by reducing the number of eosinophilic exacerbations and by reducing the severity of both eosinophilic and noneosinophilic exacerbations without increasing the total corticosteroid dose. It had no influence on the frequency of noneosinophilic exacerbations, which were the most common exacerbations.
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