~Asthma Canada Calls on Policy Makers Across Canada to Address Care Gaps in Asthma Care~

Toronto, May 7, 2024 – This World Asthma Day, Asthma Canada is calling on the approximately 2 million Canadians living with uncontrolled asthma, to take control of their condition to live their best quality of life – symptom free.  

In Canada, over 4 million people are living with asthma, however, studies show that more than 50% have an uncontrolled form of the disease, resulting in unnecessary reductions in quality of life, avoidable illness and in some cases, even death.  

“It is alarming to see the levels of uncontrolled asthma are still prevalent across Canada. While there have been significant advancements made in the field in recent years, the fact of the matter is, one in two people with asthma are living a decreased quality of life because of their condition,” President and CEO of Asthma Canada, Jeffrey Beach said. “Many Canadians living with asthma have accepted poor control as part of living with the condition. But there is an alternative and a symptom free life is attainable. If your asthma is holding you back from doing the things you love in life, this is an indication that your asthma is uncontrolled.”

To assess whether an individual’s asthma is controlled or uncontrolled, Asthma Canada advises considering the following five questions:

  1. Do you have frequent breathing difficulties and find yourself coughing and wheezing most days?
  2. Does your asthma impact your sleep by waking or keeping you up at night?
  3. Do you experience breathing difficulties when you exercise or exert yourself physically?
  4. Do you frequently miss work or school due to asthma?
  5. Do you use your reliever inhaler more than twice a week? 

Answering yes to any of these questions is an indication of uncontrolled asthma. For those who suspect they have uncontrolled asthma, Asthma Canada recommends visiting asthma.ca to download a free Asthma Action Plan and speaking to their healthcare professional about their asthma management.  

For five decades, Asthma Canada has been the national charity dedicated to supporting individuals impacted by asthma,” said Jeffrey Beach, as the charity celebrates its 50th anniversary year. If you have any questions about your or a family member’s asthma, please reach out to our FREE Asthma and Allergy HelpLine at 1-866-787-4050 where you can speak to an asthma expert about any aspect of asthma management.” 

On World Asthma Day, while attending the Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park to recognise the critical work of Asthma Canada for the asthma community, Jeffrey Beach reiterated the crucial role policymakers have in addressing the widespread issue of uncontrolled asthma throughout Canada. “Many people living with asthma, and particularly those living with severe asthma, continue to face obstacles within the healthcare system that impede their ability to manage their condition effectively. This exacerbates symptom management challenges and adds strain to our already overburdened acute health care system. To tackle this growing issue, policymakers must act promptly and make asthma care a priority.”

Asthma Canada was a participant in a recent expert steering committee that developed the first Canadian stakeholder consensus for diagnosis, appropriate referral, and treatment of severe asthma. More than 150 certified respiratory educators, respirologists, allergists, general practitioners/family physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and respiratory therapists from across the country participated in the study, to lay out a path for high-quality respiratory care for Canadians.

The study presents policy makers with a road map and best practices to improve the quality of care, resulting in improved outcomes, quality of life and patient experience for Canadians living with severe asthma and their caregivers.

Policy actions include:

  1. Address the gaps in timely and accurate referrals to specialists, complying with the 4–8-week optimal period, for patients living with asthma.
  2. Explore an enhanced role for allied health care professionals, such as certified respiratory educators, who can support the care system.
  3. Establish consistent referral pathways with acceptable wait times across the continuum of care.

These recommendations if implemented, would ensure Canadians living with uncontrolled asthma can achieve better control and live a better quality of life – symptom free.