National Asthma Watch Program Designed To Enhance Safety And Athletic Performance

May 06, 1998

On the occasion of the first-ever Asthma Awareness Day, sports medicine specialists have launched a national program called "Asthma Watch". According to Gilbert D'Alonzo, D.O., Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Director of the Airways Disease Center at Temple University School of Medicine, "this program aims to maximize safety and performance in athletes with asthma." According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), asthma prevalence rates and asthma death rates are increasing nationally. However, most experts believe that asthma related morbidity and mortality is largely preventable with improved education and medical management. Since 1994, The Exercise Induced Asthma Research Center at Temple University School of Medicine has collected data from a variety of sources to better understand asthma and athletics.

"Preliminary data suggests that asthma mortality is higher than once thought and poorly controlled asthma during exercise is frequent," according to Dr. D'Alonzo. Furthermore, even in individuals diagnosed with asthma, exercise induced disease remains a significant problem. With poorly controlled asthma in the athlete, performance fails, and some individuals are at risk for serious morbidity and mortality.

Statistics from the National Institutes of Health indicate that asthma was the first-listed diagnosis in 468,000 U.S. hospital admissions in 1993. Asthma affected an estimated 4.8 million children (under age 18) in 1994. Almost all asthmatics are prone to asthma triggered by moderate to severe exercise. However, exercise induced bronchospasm and asthma can be prevented with education and medical management. According to Dr. D'Alonzo, "the Asthma Watch Program aims to establish national guidelines for sports participation for anyone with a history of asthma."

In the U.S., asthma currently affects 14-15 million individuals while contributing to more than 5,000 deaths annually. "We believe asthma is the number one preventable cause of death in exercise today," says Dr. D'Alonzo.

Fact Sheet

Asthma Watch Program

Note: The Exercise Induced Asthma Research Center at Temple University School of Medicine is partially funded by GlaxoWellcome Inc.

Temple University

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