Role of long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists in asthma management based on updated asthma guidelines

Bruce M Prenner
Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 2008, 14 (1): 57-63

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review examines the role of long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists in the management of asthma, particularly focusing on recommendations in the newly revised Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) asthma guidelines.

RECENT FINDINGS: GINA guidelines recommend increasing inhaled corticosteroid doses in all children with asthma not controlled on low-dose inhaled corticosteroids before adding a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist, whereas NHLBI guidelines have different age-based recommendations for children. In patients younger than 5 years, NHLBI guidelines recommend increasing the inhaled corticosteroid dose before adding a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist; in children aged 5-11 years, equal weight is given to increasing the inhaled corticosteroid dose or including add-on therapy to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids. In adults and adolescents aged 12 years and older, GINA recommends adding long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids over increasing the inhaled corticosteroid dose. NHLBI guidelines give equal weight to these choices, with alternative, although not preferred, therapies including the addition of theophylline, zileuton, or leukotriene receptor antagonists to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids.

SUMMARY: In the recently updated GINA and NHLBI asthma guidelines, long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists are an important class of agents for the management of persistent asthma in patients whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroid monotherapy.


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