A new online test which is able to gauge the risk asthma sufferers are at of having a serious asthma attack has launched today.
The Triple A: Avoid Asthma Attacks test, which has been launched by the charity Asthma UK, also gives users advice about what to do if an asthma attack strikes.
Additionally, it offers tips and suggestions on what asthma sufferers can do to manage their condition in a way that minimises their risk of having an attack.
There are now hopes the new service will help to reduce the number of deaths that are the result of severe and unexpected asthma attacks.
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According to Asthma UK, approximately 1,100 people die every year following an asthma attack and every seven minutes someone is hospitalised because of an attack.
The charity also estimates that three quarters of asthma-related admissions to A&E departments could be prevented if patients have more help and support in managing their condition.
The test is based around eight simple questions about factors that are known to be linked to an increased risk of having a serious asthma attack.
After completing the online test, users are then put into one of three traffic-light categories which rates their risk factor; red (high risk), orange (medium risk) and green (no risk).
Asthma-sufferers are then advised about managing their condition and reducing their risk in accordance with their rating.
“Asthma attacks are not to be taken lightly,” said Dr Samantha Walker, the director of research and policy at Asthma UK.
“The test is designed to make people sit up, take notice and make changes to the way they manage their asthma if they are shown to be at an increased risk of an asthma attack.”
She added: “This kind of test for asthma has never been done before but we're confident it will prove an effective motivator to help reduce frightening and often unnecessary hospital admissions.”
To go alongside the launch of the Triple A: Avoid Asthma Attacks online test, a UK-wide review of all asthma-related deaths has started.
The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) was commissioned by the UK government and will be carried out by a research team from the Royal College of Physicians.
They will collect information about asthma deaths from hospitals and local GP surgeries from across the UK, with the aim of finding a way to reduce such tragedies.
Commenting on the mammoth research project, which is being supported by Asthma UK, Dr Mark Levy, the study’s clinical leader, said: “For 50 years, research has shown that the majority of asthma deaths are potentially preventable?
“This first UK National Review of Asthma Deaths offers clinicians and sufferers an opportunity to learn from these sad events and find ways of improving care for people with asthma in the future.
He added: “We're going into these deaths in much more detail than has been done before, in terms of looking at the process of care that's been provided and also by interviewing a hundred of the families we will hope to get information that hasn't been gleaned before.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of Asthma UK, Neil Churchill, said: “The importance of this National Review cannot be under-estimated.
“The UK has a higher death rate from asthma than other similar countries and we have been unable to reduce numbers significantly in recent years.
“This review will establish any patterns and risk factors that will help us prevent asthma deaths in the future.”
Click here to take the Triple A: Avoid Asthma Attacks online test.