Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

Primary care management of asthma attacks: the impact of COVID-19

Commentary on the impact of the pandemic on primary care management of asthma attacks published

A recent publication in Advances in Therapy outlines the challenges faced in primary care settings in managing asthma in adults and young people. The commentary situates these challenges within the COVID-19 pandemic and offers advice on recognition, classification, treatment and continuing care of asthma.

The Paper

The publication highlights:

  • It is important to be able to prevent asthma attacks during a respiratory pandemic
  • Prompt recognition and classification of attack severity, whether face to face or remotely is important
  • Asthma attacks can be managed effectively in primary care
  • How continuity of care can be maintained following an attack

Impact of COVID-19 on Asthma Attacks

The commentary also specifies the impact on asthma attacks seen during the pandemic. At the outbreak of the pandemic, inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) prescriptions increased, before returning to baseline levels in the following months, and there was an increase in adherence to controller medications based on electronically monitored adherence data. This suggests a heightened awareness of the importance of asthma as a disease.

At the same time, there was a fall in severe asthma attacks seen in primary care and hospital during the first lockdown period. Despite not fully understanding the reasons, these may include a decrease in air pollution, a decrease in the circulation of respiratory viruses or improved self-management.

The researchers point out that many studies have been carried out during the pandemic on asthma outcomes, including death, which report that COVID-19 infection does not worsen those outcomes.

Opportunities from the Pandemic

The article concludes by stating that the pandemic is an opportunity to increase the awareness of asthma as a chronic condition, and the importance of managing asthma attacks. The paper simplifies the appropriate and timely diagnosis, classification and treatment of acute attacks in adults and teenagers.

Monica Fletcher OBE, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research Advocacy Lead, was lead author on this paper. She hopes it brings some clarity for patients and primary care physicians when managing, diagnosing and treating asthma attacks. She said:

The pandemic has heightened the awareness of the importance of respiratory symptoms among patients and health care professionals. It has also highlighted the importance of preventing, detecting and managing asthma attacks and how primary care has a role in responding to acute attacks.

Monica Fletcher OBECentre Advocacy Lead and lead author on this commentary

Read the paper

This publication is available from Advances in Therapy

Cite as

Fletcher, M., van der Molen, T., Lenney, W. et al. Primary Care Management of Asthma Exacerbations or Attacks: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Adv Ther (2022).