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Quick, easy breaths

New asthma guide updates recommendations in concise format. 

Primary care nurses, GPs and pharmacists now have access to new asthma management guidelines.

The revised Australian Asthma Handbook was launched by minister for health Peter Dutton recently, who hopes the information will change the way practitioners deal with asthma over the next decade.

Nurse practitioner Naomi Fenton said the new format – a small, quick reference guide coupled with a new interactive online website – targets primary care and is easy to use.

Fenton sat on the National Asthma Council Australia Guidelines Committee, which brought together groups from a range of different professions, and saw the rigorous review process involved in updating the document.

She says the guidelines, formerly known as the Asthma Management Handbook, now contain exactly what nurses need, “practical information in plain English underpinned by the latest evidence”.

“Since the release of the last guidelines, in 2006, the evidence base of asthma diagnosis and management has advanced substantially, so it is important that all primary care nurses refresh their knowledge with this latest handbook,” Fenton said.

Professor Amanda Barnard, chair of the National Asthma Council Australia Guidelines Committee said nurses are in a great position to make a difference to the quality of life of people with asthma.

She says one of the main changes to the guidelines is the move to recommend regular treatment with a low-dose inhaled corticosteroid preventer for adults.

“For people who have symptoms more than twice a month, we are suggesting they need to be on a low-dose preventer or preventer,” she said. “There is recent evidence from clinical trials that these preventers are very useful in terms of improving lung function, reducing flare ups and reducing need of inhaled short-acting bronchodilators.”

Practitioners are also being encouraged to move away from talking about the assessment of the severity of asthma or the underlying disease as a priority, but rather prioritising the continual assessment of asthma control.

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