A University of Iowa study finds a combination of two common asthma medications can make breathing significantly harder for some asthma sufferers and could threaten their lives. Some 200-thousand Iowans have asthma including 40-thousand children.
Doctor Miles Weinberger, a professor of pediatrics at the U-of-I, says salmeterol when used with corticosteroid inhalers can be a dangerous mix for some people even during light exercise. Weinberger says “When they use the combination of drugs, their asthma actually gets worse instead of better and their rescue medication, which is usually albuterol, no longer is as effective as it used to be.”
The report is being published in the August 24th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, which Weinberger says is based on a comprehensive study of asthma patients. He says two patients in the study had a very dramatic worsening of their condition, even life-threatening episodes, with even modest exercise.
For most people, studies have found the drug combination helps improve their health. Weinberger emphasizes, the problem is only in a small subset of people. He says asthma sufferers who take the drug combination should be fine if they’re sleeping through the night and aren’t having a problem during exercise.
Weinberger, who directs the U-of-I’s Division of Pediatric Allergy and Pulmonary Diseases, says “but if someone finds that despite using this combination of products, they’re still using their albuterol a lot, they’re waking up at night and particularly if they’re having exercise problems, yes, they should definitely talk with their doctor.”
Two asthma-associated fundraiser walks are planned in Iowa this fall, October 14th in Cedar Rapids and October 21st in Des Moines. For more information, surf to “www.lungusa.org” or call 800-LUNGUSA.