Nearly 24 million people in this country suffer from asthma. For most of them, avoiding allergens and taking medications help keep their asthma under control. But for a small group with severe persistent asthma, frequent hospital visits tend to be the norm and taking medications and lifestyle changes don't do the trick. Northwestern Memorial Hospital is now using a new procedure called bronchial thermoplasty (BT), the first non-drug therapy approved by the Federal Drug Administration, for patients with severe asthma.
"This procedure is for patients who, despite receiving high levels of asthma medications, continue to suffer from asthma attacks," said Colin Gillespie, MD, pulmonologist and director of interventional pulmonology at Northwestern Memorial. "BT offers these patients a way to control their disease."
BT is a simple, minimally invasive procedure. It's performed in three different parts, and each time a different section of the lung is treated. BT is designed to be an outpatient procedure. The Boston Scientific Alair® Bronchial Thermoplasty System delivers heat energy to the airway of the lungs; reducing the excessive muscle, which decreases the ability of the airway to narrow. This helps reduce the amount of asthma attacks.
"Asthma affects many people in this country, and often is undertreated by physicians," says Ravi Kalhan, MD, pulmonologist and director of the asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) program at Northwestern Memorial. "The bronchial thermoplasty procedure offers our patients with severe refractory asthma an option that may improve their quality of life. This is an important addition to the available therapies for this common condition."
In a clinical study, adults with severe asthma that were treated with BT had improved quality of life.
- 84% reduction in emergency room visits for symptoms of asthma
- 73% reduction in hospital visits for symptoms of asthma
- 66% reduction in lost days from work, school, or other activities due to asthma
- 32% reduction in asthma attacks
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About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 894-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 205-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois.
About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital has 1,705 affiliated physicians and 6,769 employees. Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.
Northwestern Memorial has nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence. And, Northwestern Memorial ranks 12th in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2012 Honor Roll of "America's Best Hospitals". The hospital is ranked in 12 of 16 clinical specialties rated by U.S. News and is No. 1 in Illinois and Chicago in U.S. News' 2012 state and metro rankings, respectively. For 13 years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 13 years.