NIH statement on World Asthma Day 2019

May 8, 2019

Yesterday (May 7), on World Asthma Day 2019, the NIH stands with patients, families, advocates, researchers, and health care professionals around the globe to raise awareness about this common chronic respiratory disease.

In 2016, asthma affected 26 million Americans and nearly 340 million people worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease study. The disease can profoundly affect quality of life and financial and emotional health and is a major cause of missed time from school and work. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency room visits and hospitalizations and can be fatal.

NIH-funded research has greatly increased knowledge of asthma and led to better treatment and prevention options. Implementing what we know in clinical and community settings, however, still needs urgent attention. Putting into practice proven strategies for asthma prevention, control, and care not only will help reduce the burden of the disease, it also will help address health disparities that have resulted in asthma’s disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities and families living at or below the poverty line.

Three NIH institutes support and conduct studies on asthma—the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This research portfolio reflects the complexity of medical, environmental, social and economic factors that influence the causes, management, treatment and prevention of this condition.

The NHLBI’s Division of Lung Diseases, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, leads the efforts to understand the biology of asthma development, progression and severity and to optimize treatment for patients. Despite significant research strides, many people continue to have poorly controlled asthma, which underscores the importance of improving the adoption of current evidence-based interventions and developing new ones.

As it has improved therapies and prevention for patients, NHLBI’s research has contributed to a better understanding of asthma as a complex disease with a broad range of genetic and biological variability. This heterogeneity affects individual patients’ responses to triggers and treatment, posing a challenge to managing the condition and calling for more personalized methods.

Funded by the NHLBI, the Precision Interventions for Severe and/or Exacerbation Prone Asthma Network will be conducting clinical trials to identify personalized medicine approaches that treat severe asthma more effectively. It has established 10 centers to test a series of treatments approved by the FDA based on each patient’s specific biology or biomarkers. Recruitment will begin this year.

NIH has more information