The innovative treatment, called bronchial thermoplasty, involves opening patients’ troublesome airways by applying heat directly to them, which eases their breathing and reduces the likelihood of an asthma attack.
The asthma unit at the Hospital has led the way regionally in a seven-year, international trial of the treatment, with all results proving it to be safe and of lasting benefit to patients. As a result, the treatment was approved by NICE and is now to be used in selected specialised centres including at Heartlands.
Respiratory consultant at Heartlands Hospital, Dr Adel Mansur, said: “Asthma is a common long-term condition affecting one in 12 adults in the region. Caused by inflammation of the airways, asthma sufferers experience coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness and a severe onset of symptoms can cause an asthma attack where hospital treatment might be needed.
“Bronchial thermoplasty is giving to people with asthma who still struggle despite otherwise optimum asthma treatment. It is usually given under a local anaesthesia with sedation using a tube inserted in the patient’s airways. In total a patient will usually be treated over three sessions each a month apart to treat both lungs.”
One of these patients, Anthony McGuinness, aged 48 from Kingstanding, has received two sessions of the treatment and is awaiting the third final treatment session. He said: “I was diagnosed with asthma at the age of four and spent many of my days as a child in and out of hospital and intensive care with severe attacks. It’s affected my day to day life – on a bad day the slightest movement can make me out of breathe and it’s a struggle to talk on the phone for a long time or go up the stairs.
“I’ve been coming to Heartlands for five to six years now. Since starting the bronchial thermoplasty treatment in March this year I’ve noticed an improvement. I believe in the treatment and that it will help in the long-term. But it’s the whole approach provided by Dr Mansur and the respiratory team that has helped to stabilise my condition. They look into why my symptoms are happening and monitor and research my condition rather than just treating me when an attack occurs. I’m young enough to have a chance at keeping well and leading a normal life and I have no doubt this research will look to improve the lives of asthma patients.”