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:
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."
Dr Levy from the Royal College of Physicians said that "doctors, patients and their families failed to recognise life-threatening danger signs of asthma".
Asthma patients are dying needlessly as a result of poor care, a damning new report has found. Some 1,242 people died from asthma in 2012.
The below video by BUPA shows what happens when a person gets asthma and how it can be prevented:
The review said: "It might be that in these cases people were complacent about their asthma and we feel that the majority of these people did not know what to do - they did not recognise the danger signs they did not know how or when to call for help."
He said that three quarters of those who died did not have a personalised asthma plan which would have provided them with this information.
Charity Asthma UK said that prescribing errors were detected in 47% of the deaths studied.
There are 5.4 million people in the UK who suffer from the condition.
An asthma sufferer has described the "absolutely terrifying" attack which almost killed her last March.
Rachel Marshall, 29, told Gold Morning Britain about she was unable to get breath properly and how her attack was triggered by the cold weather.
People with asthma prescribed the wrong kind of inhaler were behind a lot of preventable deaths, a leading health charity told Good Morning Britain.
Asthma UK's Kay Boycott said some sufferers were under-prescribed inhalers designed to prevent an attack, while too many reliever inhalers were given to patients.
"What we'll say is with an asthma attack, you'll need to start hours, days, weeks before, so if you have got hay fever, start taking your preventer before the hay fever season starts to prevent them."
Data showing two thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented are a "are a call to action for commissioners, health professionals and patients," according to a health chief.
Professor Mike Morgan, NHS England's national clinical director for respiratory services, said:
Many asthma patients who passed away from their condition were excessively using their reliever inhaler in the months leading up to their deaths, a study has found.
The Royal College of Physicians said the heavy use suggested they were not managing their condition well.
They also found:
- Medics should have spotted that they were repeatedly prescribing these inhalers and taken action.
- Meanwhile one in 10 of those who died had been admitted to hospital for an acute asthma attack within four weeks of their death.
- The report found that 45% of those people who died following an asthma failed to call for help or obtain help during their attack and the vast majority of children died even before they reached hospital.