A Drug-Free Treatment for Asthma?

(August 14, 2013)

Could a device used to treat sleep apnea also help control asthma?  The American Lung Association’s Asthma Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) is trying to answer that question.  The network is currently recruiting asthma patients for a study to examining whether the use of Continued Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a safe, non-pharmaceutical device that is used for sleep apnea can also improve asthma control. 

The ACRC’s current study, the Effect of Positive Airway pressure on Reducing Airway Reactivity in Patients with Asthma (CPAP), is examining whether the use of CPAP, which keeps airways open during sleep, makes airways more relaxed and thus improves asthma symptoms.  With CPAP treatment, clean, humidified air is blown into the lungs in order to prevent airways from collapsing.  Thus the chest and lungs are more expanded helping patients to breathe better.

“If CPAP is found to be effective, this will introduce an entirely new way to treat asthma without medication.” states Robert Wise, MD, director of the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers Network “If we can reduce the number of inhalers and frequency of inhaled rescue medication with this new treatment, it will not only relieve the burden of asthma but improve their quality of life as well”.

The CPAP clinical trial is currently recruiting non-smokers between the ages of 15-60 with history of asthma for their four month study.

Asthma is a common lung disease that makes breathing difficult for millions of Americans, both young and old. In 2011, it was estimated that 25.9 million Americans currently had asthma, including 7.1 million children. Asthma is the cause of nearly 11 million ambulatory physician encounters and 440,000 hospitalizations annually.

The American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) is a network of 18 centers across the U.S. and a data coordinating center at Johns Hopkins conducting large scale clinical trials with the mission to advance the clinical care and treatment of people with asthma.  As a multi-centered network, the ACRC has focused on conducting effectiveness trials due to its ability to enroll large numbers of patients from diverse populations to ensure that the research findings are relevant to large groups of patients and can be interpreted with the highest level of scientific authority.