Asthma Institute

Curing Severe Asthma

Severe Asthma in the United StatesAsthma care has advanced substantially during the past few decades. In spite of these improvements, the disease remains a major health crisis in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 26.5 million Americans, or 1 in 13 people, are living with the condition. Of those, more than 13 million do not have their asthma under control. This disease is the leading cause of emergency room visits, missed school days and hospitalizations for children.

Approximately 20 percent of these patients have the most severe form of the condition and account for the most substantial impact on morbidity, mortality and the economic burden of asthma.

The model of treatment for asthma has shifted, with primary care physicians now managing the majority of care for patients. In addition, many major medical and research centers are changing their focus to other conditions, believing that asthma is controllable and further efforts are no longer necessary to help patients with this disease.

A specialized approach to treating this significant burden on our health care system and economy is rapidly disappearing from the medical landscape. People living with severe and uncontrolled asthma are being left behind and missing out on the personalized care they deserve and need.


Life-Changing Care & Research at National Jewish Health

People living with severe asthma come to National Jewish Health because we are the place in the United States where physicians refer the most difficult cases. As the trusted leader in caring for patients living with asthma, individuals come to us because we are dedicated to treating the whole person – not just the symptoms – and we focus on the root cause of the disease. Whether a person has mild, moderate or severe asthma, we have a wide range of individualized treatment programs that transform lives.

Our commitment is to never say never. At National Jewish Health, we use a multidisciplinary and multispecialty care approach that integrates clinical and research efforts to deliver the best care possible and expedite the laboratory-bench-to-hospital-bedside process that results in successful asthma care, management and research. We are dedicated to gaining a better understanding of asthma in order to discover novel therapeutic options for patients living with this challenging disease.

National Jewish Health is at the forefront of a new era in health care that embraces precision medicine, which tailors medical treatments to the individual characteristics of each patient. We understand that each person is unique and variations in diet, environment, personal habits and DNA all influence his or her individual health. Our physicians spend all the time necessary to accurately diagnose, treat and educate each patient and family who walks through our doors.

Today, asthma is the most common diagnosis for both adult and pediatric patients. Twenty-five percent of patients who visit National Jewish Health for treatment have been misdiagnosed with asthma and are taking unnecessary medications to relieve their symptoms. Another 25 percent of our patients have asthma and additional co-morbidities that need to be addressed in order to effectively treat their disease. We pride ourselves in making the right diagnosis and treatment the first time and tracking those results over time.

National Jewish Health is the only institution in the world with focused pulmonary and immunology expertise. We understand the importance of the interplay between the immune system and the lungs and how environmental triggers and other allergies can drive severe asthma.

We pioneered asthma research and care since it first emerged as a public health threat in the 1950s, and in 1960, our scientists developed the first clinically useful method of diagnosing asthma. National Jewish Health researchers discovered the IgE molecule, which is responsible for allergic reactions, a breakthrough that has become the basis for many new treatments for asthma and allergies. We also helped to discover that a drug targeting IgE nearly eliminates seasonal increases in asthma attacks.

Many of the medications used today to treat asthma and allergies, including Advair®, Claritin®, Xolair®, and all the newer “biologics,” have been introduced to the marketplace as a direct result of the clinical trial work performed at our hospital. While we outpace our colleagues across the country and around the world, our physician-scientists and PhD researchers want to do more. Our passion drives our desire to cure severe asthma.