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A New Asthma Treatment Alternative

Posted 11/21/2017 by UHBlog

Former Cleveland Cavalier Richard Jefferson credits a new treatment for severe asthma with extending his basketball career by several years. Talk to us about whether it can help you.

Close-up of man using inhaler

Frequent emergency room visits, hospital stays and constant use of medication all can be obstacles in the life of a severe asthmatic. But a relatively new procedure called bronchial thermoplasty has shown promising results in reducing the effects of the disease, says interventional pulmonologist Benjamin Young, MD.

“Asthma is a daily struggle,” Dr. Young says. “Bronchial thermoplasty isn’t a cure, but it has provided a better quality of life for people with poorly controlled asthma. The goal is for them to not miss work or school so often and to be able to function without as many episodes as they would have had otherwise. People with asthma generally appreciate any improvement they can get.”

Here’s how it works.

During a series of three treatments a thin catheter, fed into the lung through the mouth or nose, delivers radio frequency (RF) energy to the wall of the patient’s airway. The purpose is to reduce the airway smooth muscle tissue, which constricts during an asthma attack. During each of the first two procedures, one of the lung’s two lower lobes is treated. The two upper lobes are treated during the third and final procedure. According to Dr. Young, each treatment takes about 30 to 50 minutes.

The treatment was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. University Hospitals began to offer it this year.

“The data is showing sustained success in reducing the asthma symptoms at least five years after treatment,” Dr. Young says. “The reduction in smooth muscle mass seems to continue, but more importantly, the benefit to the patients is that they have fewer exacerbations, fewer ER visits, fewer hospitalizations and, in some cases, they reduce their medication requirements. It isn’t a complete replacement for standard asthma treatments, but it helps to get people with poorly controlled asthma into better control.”

Jefferson, who played on the 2015-2016 Cavaliers championship team, is a national spokesman for bronchial thermoplasty.

“If it wasn’t for bronchial thermoplasty, it would have been tough to continue my career,” Jefferson says in a promotional video.

He had the treatment in 2012 while a member of the Golden State Warriors. At the time, he thought he may have been at the end of his career.

Severe asthmatics 18 years old or older are eligible for the procedure. If you’re interested, you can call 216-844-8500 for more information.

Benjamin Young, MD is an interventional pulmonologist and medical director – bronchoscopy at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Young or any other health care professional online.

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