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Rate of asthma cases in UAE highest in the world

By Hani M Bathish / 24 August 2003

DUBAI - A recurrent disease like asthma largely reduces one's quality of life. For most asthmatics, the disease often restricts their ability to do normal work that involves moderate physical activity, not to mention its adverse effect on the sufferer's mental state and finances.

It is estimated that 7.2 per cent of the world's population is asthmatic. In the UAE, approximately 15 per cent of the population suffer from the disease, the highest rate in the world.

Over the years, inhaled corticosteroids and use of inhaler have dominated asthma treatment. However, medical reports released by WebMD Health Medical Journal showed that the more the asthma patients used inhaled steroids, the weaker their bones became, thus increasing the risk from osteoporosis.

A significant loss in bone density was noticed among regular users of inhaled steroids, which is indicative of osteoporosis.

According to Dr Fadi Zannerni, general practitioner at Manchester Clinic in Dubai, "High dosage and long-time use of steroid inhalers may result in serious side-effects."

One of the reasons for patient compliance to inhalers is that it requires precise coordination and good timing between activation and inhalation.

People with arthritis or poor strength in their hands may also have difficulty using inhalers. Many patients find it difficult to hold their breath after inhalation.

Today, innovative drugs are the 'leukotriene receptor antagonists' which are playing an important role in asthma therapy and offer advantages over other currently available treatments, including excellent tolerability, oral route of administration, once-daily dosage and proven efficacy in a wide range of patients, including children.

"Leukotriene receptor antagonist helps asthma patients in many cases. The convenience in its usage and its medical significance to asthma patients could increase compliance to asthma therapy," Dr Zannerni said.

The ability of leukotriene receptor antagonist-based medication, to be used along with inhaled beta-agonists or added to existing asthma treatment regimens, allow reduction in concomitant therapy, which is a welcome news to all asthma patients.

By oral delivery of medication, a patient overcomes the problem of compliance. The benefits of taking a single pill to control asthma have a direct impact on a patient's attitude towards asthma therapy.

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