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More than three quarters of British asthma sufferers are unaware that they may be at risk of a fatal attack, according to a new survey.
The study by Allergy UK found that 78% of asthma sufferers who think their asthma is mild or moderate use up to one reliever inhaler a week, when they shouldn’t need to use even one per month if their condition is well controlled, the charity said.
Nearly half of those who considered their condition mild or moderate and under control have been prescribed oral steroids in the past 12 months, which should only be necessary in an emergency or in the most severe asthma cases.
Alarmingly, 15% of those who considered their asthma mild or moderate have attended A&E in the last year for symptoms, but still class the disease as under control.
Four million Britons need asthma medication, and at least 200 people are hospitalised because of their asthma every day in the UK, a total of 73,000 annually, with more than 1,000 dying per year.
The survey of 464 asthma patients was funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK.
Hundreds of asthma patients, including children, are dying needlessly in Britain every year.
A national review into the condition has found complacency, both by doctors and patients themselves, has contributed to a dip in the standard of care. It says two thirds of deaths could be avoided.
Allergy UK says ineffective management of serious hay fever is a key factor in the increasing number of hospital admissions for asthma:
Asthma is rarely addressed in the management of hay fever, even though allergic rhinitis can impact hugely on this chronic life-long disease, resulting in asthma attacks and in the most extreme cases, hospitalisation and even death.
In an age of ever greater healthcare advances, it is simply unacceptable that hay fever is not more appropriately treated.
Professor Mike Morgan, NHS England's national clinical director for respiratory services, said: "These statistics are a call to action.
"Every patient should have a care plan which should be regularly reviewed and patients should be supported to manage their asthma, including effective inhaler technique and knowledge of their condition.
"In February last year, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) produced a set of quality standards which make it clear that local commissioners should integrate services so that asthma sufferers receive a consistently high quality service from childhood to adulthood."