Asthma: epidemiology of disease control in Latin America – short review

Dirceu Solé, Carolina Sanchez Aranda and Gustavo Falbo Wandalsen
 

Abstract

Asthma is reported as one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood, impairing the quality of life of patients and their families and incurring high costs to the healthcare system and society. Despite the development of new drugs and the availability of international treatment guidelines, asthma is still poorly controlled, especially in Latin America. Original and review articles on asthma control or epidemiology with high levels of evidence have been selected for analysis among those published in PubMed referenced journals during the last 20 years, using the following keywords: “asthma control” combined with “Latin America”, ” epidemiology”, “prevalence”, “burden”, “mortality”, “treatment and unmet needs”, “children”, “adolescents”, and “infants”. There was a high prevalence and severity of asthma during the period analyzed, especially in children and adolescents. Wheezing in infants was a significant reason for seeking medical care in Latin American health centers. Moreover, the frequent use of quick-relief bronchodilators and oral corticosteroids by these patients indicates the lack of a policy for providing better care for asthmatic patients, as well as poor asthma control. Among adults, studies document poor treatment and control of the disease, as revealed by low adherence to routine anti-inflammatory medications and high rates of emergency care visits and hospitalization. In conclusion, although rare, studies on asthma control in Latin America repeatedly show that patients are inadequately controlled and frequently overestimate their degree of asthma control according to the criteria used by international asthma treatment guidelines. Additional education for doctors and patients is essential for adequate control of this illness, and therefore also for reduction of the individual and social burden of asthma.

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Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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