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Supporting asthma patients to exercise

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Asthma is the most common symptomatic long-term condition and affects a significant proportion of the UK population.

Figures taken from general practice QOF data show that it has a known prevalence of 5.9 per cent; as the UK population is around 62.1 million, this means there are currently 3.65 million people with asthma, of all ages, on current treatments on our asthma registers.1 Of these, many will feel they are unable to undertake regular exercise because of actual (or fear of) symptoms being triggered by exercise. Therefore many people with asthma are missing out on the benefits of exercise.

Asthma is a reversible disease, characterised by hyper-responsiveness of the bronchial tree to a variety of stimuli or triggers. Common triggers include viral infections, allergens, cigarette smoke, cold air and exercise.2 During a hyper-responsive asthma attack, the muscles around the airways tighten, the airways swell and can fill with mucous.3

This causes the classic symptom of breathlessness and characteristic wheeze as the airflow is hampered, which can be frightening enough, but when it occurs on, or during, exercise it can be a deterrent to exercise. Such attacks are referred to as exercise-induced asthma (EIA).3


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