Getting control of uncontrolled asthma

Am J Med. 2014 Nov;127(11):1049-1059. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.05.006. Epub 2014 May 17.


Despite various treatment modalities, a large proportion of patients have asthma that remains uncontrolled. These patients remain at an increased risk of developing severe exacerbations, have a poor quality of life, and pose a high economic healthcare burden, with an estimated mean annual cost more than double that of patients with good symptom control. It is therefore important to accurately diagnose asthma and continually assess asthma control. Several validated tools are available to do this, including questionnaires, biomarker analysis, and bronchoscopy. Current guidelines advise physicians to establish a self-management program for the patient to assess and monitor asthma control. A further recommendation is the establishment of an educational action plan to increase treatment adherence and to improve asthma control. National and international guidelines provide long-term management strategies for these patients and recommend a stepwise approach for achieving and maintaining asthma control. Despite availability of a wide range of controller and reliever therapies, uncontrolled asthma remains a challenge and reflects the need for new therapeutic options. This review discusses current global guidelines for the assessment and management of asthma control and summarizes the broad spectrum of novel therapeutic agents currently under development for the treatment of asthma, including anticholinergics, chemoattractant receptor-homologous molecules expressed on T-helper 2 lymphocyte antagonists, and anti-interleukin (IL)-5, anti-IL-13, and anti-IL-4 agents.

Keywords: Asthma; Asthma triggers; Long-acting anticholinergics; Long-acting β2-agonists; Spirometry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / economics
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Auscultation
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Disease Management
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Care
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Glucocorticoids