asthma

Ask the Expert: Bridgeport Hospital's Easy Breathing asthma management program

An interview with Adiba Geeti, MD, attending physician in the department of Medicine and Pulmonary Medicine

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways.

In susceptible individuals, this inflammation causes recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and cough, particularly at night or in the early morning. Common triggers can include inhaled allergens, respiratory infections, inhaled respiratory irritants (such as tobacco smoke and cold dry air), hormonal fluctuations, medications, pets, strong smells and physical activity.

Q: How many people in the United States have asthma?

About 18.4 million Americans have asthma – approximately 1 in 13 people. Rates of asthma are higher in minority inner-city populations. Urban dwellers also experience a greater number of asthma exacerbations and more frequent emergency department (ED) visits, which brings an economic cost. Annually, Connecticut spends $47.3 million on hospitalizations related to asthma – $13.4 million on ED visits alone.

Q: What is the Easy Breathing program?

Easy Breathing is an evidence-based asthma management program that translates the national asthma guidelines into a usable and standardized format for healthcare providers.

The program ensures that patients and physicians work together to manage asthma symptoms with regular follow-up and medication adherence strategies, with the goal of reducing emergency department visits and healthcare costs for people with asthma.

The objectives of the Easy Breathing program are to:

  • Identify patients with asthma by using a validated and reliable self-reported survey tool that improves diagnosis of asthma.
  • Apply standardized guidelines to develop a customized treatment plan for adult patients with asthma, based on the severity of their individual condition.
  • Follow up with asthma patients and provide education to help with their control of the disease.
  • Control risk factors and intervene with appropriate resources as needed. For each patient, a written asthma action plan consisting of medications for daily use, use when sick, and emergency use is developed with a severity-specific treatment selection guide.

Q: What are the advantages of the Easy Breathing program?

Overall research shows that evidence-based interventions reduce ED visits and hospitalizations and improve quality of life. We have shown in our own outpatient setting that patients who are enrolled in the Easy Breathing program and are following a treatment plan experience decreased urgent care visits, emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to asthma.

For more information on the Easy Breathing program, call 203-384-3495.