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Published by mark hopkins, 2019-12-05 06:32:53



Summer 2019

My hero!
Toddler saves
mum’s life


Dr Luke Daines’

vital new trial

inhaler techniques

New videos that
can save lives!

End unfair
prescription charges

2019 campaign update


to your summer issue of Asthma Magazine!

Your guest editor:

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and
Policy at Asthma UK

I am passionate about helping
people with asthma and have
worked in the field of allergy and
asthma for nearly 25 years.

I wanted to thank you personally for your incredible
support. You enable me to lead Asthma UK’s funding of
research to improve the quality of asthma diagnosis and
treatment, reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of
an asthma attack. Our ultimate aim is to find a cure so that
asthma no longer affects people’s lives.

It’s only because of you, that we can campaign for the rights of
people with asthma – to ensure that their voices are heard by
healthcare professionals, politicians and the wider public. You
can read about the prescription charges campaign on pages 8-9.

We rely entirely on your donations, and could not continue
doing what we do without your generosity.

We work tirelessly to increase funding for asthma research:
directly as a funder, and indirectly as an influencer. As the
UK’s largest charitable funder of asthma research, we position
ourselves as the ‘go-to’ adviser for everything asthma-related:
helping shape research agendas and linking researchers and

Without you, this vital work simply wouldn’t be possible.

Thank you,

Dr Samantha Walker

PS I hope you enjoy reading about the potentially life-changing
work of some of the researchers you’re funding: Dr Louise
Fleming on pages 6-7, Dr Hans Michael Haitchi on pages 12-13,
and Dr Luke Daines on pages 16-17.


ASTHMA BAKE SALE’ Facebook /AsthmaUK
FUNDRAISING TARGET Twitter @asthmauk

We’re nearly there. Have a bake-off Highlights
to rival contestants in the new series
of the national Bake-Off. inside this issue
To order your bake fundraising pack,
email [email protected] or 4-5 News in brief
call 020 7786 5012
New asthma attack guides
HERE FOR YOU and inhaler videos

We hope you enjoy reading about the 6-7 New technology
work you’re making possible. solves an old problem
Whether you’d like to ask a question
about our work, update your contact Improving health outcomes
details or make a gift, we’d love to hear for children
from you.
Visit 8-9 End unfair
Call 0300 222 5800 prescription charges
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Email [email protected] 2019 campaign gathers
Write to us: Asthma UK, momentum
18 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA
10 Toddler to the rescue

An inspiring family tale

11 Marathon
‘stay awake’

A remarkable feat from
a young fundraiser

12-13 Asthma research

Working with genes to cure asthma

14-15 Back to school tips

From our in-house GP

15 Ask an asthma nurse

Pointers on pesky pollen

16-17 Improving asthma

New tools to support frontline
GPs and nurses

18-19 Fantastic fundraising

Thank you for your courage and

Asthma UK is a company limited by guarantee
registered in England No. 2422401

Registered charity in England No. 802364 and
in Scotland No. SC039322


News Avoiding an
asthma attack
in brief
Asthma UK have launched new asthma
Respiratory health: attack advice for the 5.4 million
an NHS priority people with the respiratory condition.

As part of the Taskforce for Evidence suggests that many asthma
Lung Health, Asthma UK has attacks could be avoided if those with
been pushing for asthma to be the condition understood the warning
a bigger focus for the NHS. signs that an asthma attack was about
In its Long Term Plan to strike - and sought help.
announced in January
2019, NHS England Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s
defined respiratory in-house GP, says:
health as a priority and
promised the trial of “It is shocking to think that every three
smart inhalers to improve seconds in the UK someone could be
patient care of people having an asthma attack, a terrifying
with asthma. experience that can cause distress
and in some cases prove fatal.
Expert help at hand
“Asthma attacks do not come out of
Asthma UK’s expert asthma nurses the blue. If people learn to recognise
provide specialist care and support the tell-tale signs, they can get the
to people with asthma. help that could save their lives.

Thanks to you, more than 5,000 “We’re urging everyone
people have been helped in the with asthma to visit our
last six months across phone and health advice pages
WhatsApp messaging services. to find out what to if
an asthma attack is
3,923 imminent.”


1,243 Find out more at

Contact an asthma nurse,
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

WhatsApp on 07378 606 728
Call on 0300 222 5800


Facebook /AsthmaUK
Twitter @asthmauk

New inhaler videos

More than a million people with asthma
in the UK could be at risk of a potentially
life-threatening asthma attack because
they didn’t get their inhaler
technique checked by their
GP or asthma nurse.

This alarming finding is from our survey of more than 10,000 people with asthma.
It’s vital that adults and children with asthma get help with their inhaler technique
as research shows that almost half of people with asthma are not using their
inhaler properly, often without realising. This means the full dose of medicine
can’t get into their lungs where it’s needed to protect them from a life-threatening
asthma attack.

A leading medical journal revealed that 9 in 10 healthcare professionals didn’t
know how to demonstrate the use of an inhaler. Asthma UK is calling on doctors,
asthma nurses and pharmacists to help patients avoid asthma attacks by
supporting them with their inhaler technique.

Asthma UK has launched videos on its website that demonstrate
how to use 21 different inhalers, spacers and nasal sprays.

21 NEW

For more information and to view the videos, visit

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2018 5

New technologies
for an old problem

Helping children to use their inhalers
correctly and regularly

Children with problematic severe asthma make up a relatively small group but
their condition significantly impacts their quality of life. It’s also expensive
to treat because children with the condition are hospitalised so often for
asthma attacks.

A key reason for poor asthma control An important element of Louise’s work
is children not taking their medicine is distinguishing children with severe
correctly. This could be down to asthma from those whose asthma is
forgetting to use their inhaler, not worsened by poor asthma control.
using it in the right way, or feeling
awkward about using it in public. “If a child isn’t taking their inhaler
regularly and correctly, we need
Your generosity is funding Dr Louise to understand why and find ways
Fleming’s Asthma UK Research to improve things. If on the other
Fellowship. She is examining whether hand, a child is using their inhaler
new digital technologies can be used as prescribed but asthma control
to help children take their asthma remains poor, we may need to step
medicines correctly and regularly. up treatment, possibly involving
starting expensive biologic
therapies,” says Louise.

Asthma UK is very interested in
research that translates quickly

into improvements in clinical
practice. The funding

I receive is completely vital.

My research findings really
impact my day-to-day clinical
practice, and my clinical practice
informs my research activity.



jargon buster...


An advanced drug that targets substances in the body’s immune
system that cause inflammation. Prescribed for people with
severe asthma whose symptoms haven’t responded to other
standard treatments.

Louise has road tested four novel “ There was very limited medication so
electronic devices that monitor I made spacers from plastic bottles
inhaler use. to achieve a better drug delivery.
When I started at the Royal Brompton
These include flow sensors, inhaler Hospital Trust, I found that getting
attachments linked to a smart phone, to grips with the basics of asthma
videos and apps. She has also collated really chimed with my experience
feedback from children, parents and in the Gambia. I’m drawn to applied
healthcare professionals. research – practical and pragmatic
healthcare interventions.”
“ The clear preference is for a device
that is useful, low maintenance and Your support and Louise’s research
easy to use. There’s no ‘one-size fits efforts should enable children to have
all’, there are pros and cons to each better control of their asthma.
technology. We’ll be using a smart This should lead to an improved
inhaler with the ability to monitor quality of life for children and their
inhaler technique in the next stage of families with less worry and stress -
a clinical trial,” says Louise. all thanks to you!

Another aspect of her work is
motivating children to take control
of their asthma. Video animations
are helping shift mindsets; and
interventions are being tested that
may bring about lasting behavioural

Louise’s interest in asthma is rooted
in a 2003 experience of running an
asthma clinic in the Gambia.

Help support innovative research

like Dr Fleming’s by making a donation today

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2019 7


to stop unfair
prescription charges

We know that prescription
charges can really affect the
lives and wellbeing of people
with asthma. Many of you have
got in touch to tell us just how
important this issue is to you.
As a result, we conducted a
survey of over 9,000 people
with asthma in November last
year, to better understand
the impact of prescription
charges on your lives.

To catch up on all the latest
campaign activity, like us

on Facebook or follow us on
Twitter @asthmauk


Facebook /AsthmaUK
Twitter @asthmauk

The results were staggering - far worse Thanks to your support, a parliamentary
than we had anticipated. We found that debate took place on the issue, and
76% of people with asthma sometimes, MPs from various political parties
or always, struggled to afford their met Asthma UK to discuss how to end
prescriptions, and 57% were skipping asthma prescription charges.
their medication due to the cost.
The minister responsible for
Asthma UK launched its campaign prescription charges, Baroness
to stop unfair asthma prescription Blackwood, and her team are in talks
charges after publishing its survey with Asthma UK to improve the current
findings in a report ‘Paying to breathe’ exemptions system for people on low
in February. incomes.

To date, over 67,000 people have Momentum is building. More MPs and
signed the petition and nearly 100 MPs members of the House of Lords are
have shown their support by writing lending their support. Do get involved
to the Secretary of State for Health by signing the petition and contacting
and Social Care, tweeting about the your MP.
campaign, publishing articles in their
local papers, or submitting written
parliamentary questions.

Asthma UK has had some powerful support, including help
from Daniel Foulds whose personal experience led him to
become an active campaigner.

He had the unenviable choice of paying for his asthma
medication or staying on top of his household bills. There
were dire consequences: Daniel had an asthma attack that
left him hospitalised and in critical care for weeks.

Motivated to prevent anyone else going through a similar
experience, he decided to start a grassroots campaign to
end asthma prescription charges.

His media coverage fuelled a journey that led him to join Asthma UK on a visit to
parliament to make the case for free asthma prescriptions to the Shadow Health
Minister, Julie Cooper MP. Daniel’s conviction and shared personal experience
helped bring this senior politician on side - she is now a vocal supporter for
the campaign and has put forward a manifesto policy recommendation for
consideration by the Labour Party.

Sign the petition at:

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2019 9

To the rescue...

Ibrahim Yasir was three when he came to the rescue of his mum
Henna as she suffered a potentially fatal asthma attack. Four
months pregnant with Sufyan, Henna felt nauseous and found
herself on the bathroom floor struggling for breath.

As she fought to get air into her lungs,
wondering if she might die, Ibrahim
appeared by her side, clutching her
inhaler. She was astounded when he
placed the inhaler in her mouth and
started to pump it. It gave her just
enough energy to call her husband
Muhammad who immediately realised
the problem when he heard her frantic
wheezing. Muhammad gave Henna
a paper bag to breathe into, before
calling the doctor.
“ It’s frightening to think I could have

another asthma attack without
warning, but by telling my children
what to do in an emergency, I’ve given
myself the best chance possible.”

At the Asthma UK Helpline, we think
children are never too young to
learn about dialling 999. Help them
to understand when you might need
emergency support. Let them know
what they should say if they have to
make the call.

It’s only because of you that we’re able to offer expert nurse
support via WhatsApp 07378 606 728, and phone 0300 222 5800


Facebook /AsthmaUK
Twitter @asthmauk

Schoolboy stages marathon ‘stay awake’

Leighton Dyer celebrated his 11th birthday in an
unusual way: he organised a 15-hour ‘stay awake’
over two nights for him and 38 schoolmates at a
local community centre near his home in Westbury,
Combining games, midnight snacks and birthday
celebrations, Leighton raised over £570 to help
people with asthma.
To help stay awake, the youngsters were split
into five teams and points were awarded for each
game throughout the night with the winning team
receiving a prize.
The ‘stay awake’ event was Leighton’s idea and it
was backed by his parents, Amey and Russell Dyer.
Amey said: “Leighton has suffered from asthma
since he was two years old and he chose the charity
to support. He uses an inhaler in the morning and at
night-time before he goes to bed and takes a tablet
every day to help him breathe.”
In June, Leighton was presented with a Westbury
Young People’s Award in recognition of his
outstanding fundraising initiative.
Well done Leighton!
Been inspired to raise money for Asthma UK by
Leighton’s ‘stay awake’? Download a fundraising pack
at or call the
community team on 020 7786 5012


Exploring how genetics

can prevent asthma

An Asthma UK researcher
is studying a recently
discovered ‘asthma gene’
- and it’s critical role in
the development of the

Dr Hans Michael Haitchi, Associate
Professor in Respiratory Medicine
at Southampton University, has
found that the structural changes of
the airways associated with asthma
are initiated by the gene ADAM33.

ADAM33 produces an enzyme that can prevent or reverse the twitchiness
change the structure of the airways and inflammation of the airways
early in life, possibly even before characterised by asthma.
birth. Babies born with these changes
could be more sensitive to allergens With your support, Hans Michael’s
such as house dust mites. team are now working on the next
stage of their research – developing
Blocking the ADAM33 gene could lead drugs that stop ADAM33 from altering
to medical interventions that prevent the structure of the airways. He’s
people with this gene from ever optimistic that his research will
developing asthma. lead to a future where children are
stopped from ever developing asthma.
“ As so many of the 5.4 million people
in the UK have allergic asthma, the In collaboration with a group of
implications of these findings are scientists at the University of
dramatic. My research is on the Massachusetts, USA, Hans Michael has
cusp of delivering results that could developed new small molecules
make a lasting difference to millions that can almost completely switch
of lives,” says Hans Michael. off ADAM33 in cells cultured in a
petri dish.
Hans Michael’s finding challenges
conventional thinking that allergic This is promising and could lead to
airway inflammation occurs first and novel asthma therapies.
brings about the structural changes
in the airways of people with asthma. “My passionate interest in asthma
Switching the ADAM33 gene off may grew while volunteering as a young
medical doctor at an asthma


clinic. That’s where I saw first Your support is vital for our
hand the need for more research, research to develop new drugs
deeper understanding and better that target ADAM33 as a new
treatments.” therapy for asthma.

Thanks to you, Hans Michael’s work While we have good asthma
will improve our understanding of therapies that control
how genes interact with allergens in inflammation and relieve
the environment in the development symptoms, we have no therapies
of asthma. that prevent or reverse asthma.

And in the short term, Hans Michael Our aim is to develop new ADAM33
aims to develop screening tools to blocking agents as a novel asthma
identify the people most likely to therapy in the future.
benefit from this potentially life-
changing asthma therapy. Dr Hans Michael Haitchi

The potential impact of this research
is enormous: babies and young
children could be prevented from
ever developing asthma, and the
condition in adults could even be

Make a donation today and help support
more vital research like Dr Haitchi’s

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2019 13

Back to sschtoaoly- safe

Dr Andy Did you know that every September, there’s a
Whittamore, spike in the number of children rushed to A&E
Asthma UK’s with their asthma?
in-house GP
We’re only a few weeks in to the school holidays, so the start of
term might feel like a long way off. But making sure you’re helping
your child stick to their asthma medicine routines now can really
help cut their risk of an attack this September.

It doesn’t need to be hard work or spoil the holiday fun - just
follow our three simple tips:

1 Share your child’s asthma action plan: help anyone else
looking after your child to feel more confident that they
can spot the signs that symptoms are getting worse, and do
something about it.

2 Get your child to puff on a preventer inhaler daily, as
prescribed. That’s all it takes to keep the inflammation down
in your child’s airways and reduce their risk of an asthma

3 Make sure you know where your child’s reliever inhaler is.
Reliever inhalers give on the spot emergency treatment
when asthma symptoms come on. So, make sure it’s there
when they need it.

Download an asthma action plan for your child today


Avoid a September asthma Online
attack: spot the symptoms Facebook /AsthmaUK
Twitter @asthmauk
Your child’s symptoms are likely to get
worse a few days before an attack. Top Ask an
signs to look out for:
asthma nurse
• Puffing on their reliever inhaler
(usually blue) three or more times Kathy Mascarenhas, expert
a week asthma nurse

• Coughing and/or wheezing at If you or your child have
night and in the early mornings asthma and are allergic to pollen,
it’s important that you keep your
• Breathlessness hay fever under control to stop it
triggering your asthma symptoms.
• Tummy or chest pain
Take your preventer and carry your
What to do if your child’s symptoms reliever inhaler at all times.
are getting worse
Take hay fever medicines to help
1 Give two to four puffs of their stop your allergy triggering your
reliever inhaler, through a spacer. asthma symptoms.
Space the puffs out so there are
30-60 seconds between them. Clean out your nose by using a
Their symptoms should ease. If saline wash from the chemist.
they don’t or their reliever inhaler It will make you feel more
isn’t lasting for four hours, follow comfortable and help nasal sprays
our asthma attack advice below. work better.

2 Make a same-day appointment Pesky pollen sticks to everything
with your child’s GP. If the surgery and gets caught in clothing and
is closed, call 111. hair, so change your clothes and
have a shower when you get home
3 You can call our asthma nurses for to remove this irritant.
advice on 0300 222 5800 (Mon to
Fri, 9am to 5pm). Pollen drifts downwards as the air
cools at night, so try to keep your
4 If you think your child is having windows shut if your symptoms are
an asthma attack, call 999: while keeping you awake.
you wait for the ambulance, help
them sit up and give a puff of Keep an eye on the pollen count.
their reliever inhaler every 30-60 When it’s high, wear wraparound
seconds - you can give them up to sunglasses to stop pollen
10 puffs. getting in your eyes.

5 You can repeat step 1 every 15 Expert advice on managing hay fever
minutes while you’re waiting
for the ambulance.

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2019 15

A fresh look at

asthma diagnosis

Despite asthma being one of the most common and debilitating
long-term health conditions, affecting people of all ages, there is
no single test that can accurately diagnose it.

Making an asthma diagnosis is more personalised results sooner -
tricky. Most people with asthma are and with a clear explanation of the
diagnosed by GPs and nurses working medical assessment.
in general practice who often rely on
clinical judgement. “ Being a practising GP is utterly
critical to this development project”
Other conditions with asthma-like
symptoms such as viral infections Luke carried out a systematic review
need to be ruled out before making of clinical prediction models from
a confirmed asthma diagnosis. Sadly, across the world and concluded
misdiagnosis is not uncommon. that all had flaws and none were fit
for purpose.
Dr Luke Daines is a practising GP and
clinical academic research fellow at Now, he and Professor Pinnock are
the Asthma UK Centre for Applied working with software specialists to
Research, University of Edinburgh. develop a prototype CDSS that will
He’s dedicated to improving seamlessly interface with the software
diagnostic pathways. used by GP practices. Usability is key if
this CDSS is to be widely adopted.
Luke is joint lead with Professor Hilary
Pinnock at the University of Edinburgh How useful the system is to healthcare
on a three year Asthma UK funded professionals and patients will be
research project. Both are convinced carefully evaluated as part of the pilot
that the best way to improve the and will inform a future full-scale trial.
diagnosis of asthma is to enhance the
information systems used by front line Luke is optimistic that this research
GPs and nurses. will improve asthma diagnostic
pathways. Thanks to you, GPs and
One system that all GPs and nurses nurses will be able to make a more
use is the Electronic Health Record accurate assessment of patients and
(EHR) where GPs or nurses record the CDSS will guide them on the most
notes at each consultation and store suitable tests, including identifying
results from any tests. asthma sub-types. This will help to
quickly pinpoint the best treatment
The aim is to develop software that option for that individual.
will serve as a clinical decision
support system (CDSS), identifying the “ Patients are very receptive when
factors in a patient’s record that may they’re diagnosed, so it’s a real
have a bearing on the likelihood of window of opportunity to markedly
having asthma. GPs and nurses will be improve self-management,
supported in making better and more awareness of their triggers and their
accurate diagnoses; patients will get adherence to medicine,” says Luke.


I’m excited by the scope
for reducing asthma
symptoms and risks for

Dr Luke Daines, GP and
clinical researcher

Make a donation using the form

that came with this magazine and help

support more research

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2019 17

Takineapnaervt ent!


Team Asthma UK

We’ve been blown away by our
incredible 2019 London Marathon
team. Congratulations and an
enormous thank you to the 260
runners and their generous sponsors
who to date have raised £500,000.

Upcoming events

Royal Parks
Half Marathon
13 October 2019
Vitality Big Half
1 March 2020
London Landmarks
29 March 2020
Brighton Marathon
19 April 2020
Edinburgh Marathon Festival
23 & 24 May 2020
Tough Mudder
Various locations and dates
To register or for more information



Facebook /AsthmaUK
Twitter @asthmauk

David Farr:

My marathon journey

“ Asthma UK is a charity very close to my heart.
My family life has been marked by asthma: my
son Henry has severe asthma and my uncle Eddie,
who recently died, suffered terribly his entire life
with asthma.

I ran my first marathon for Asthma UK in 2014,
shortly after my eldest son Henry was diagnosed
with brittle asthma. His condition is very severe
and he’s been admitted to hospital more times
than I care to remember. Watching him struggle to
breathe when he has an asthma attack is an awful
experience. At times I’ve been petrified.

If it wasn’t for the rapid response of emergency Danavi£nid2c,rr7ea8di6sieb! dle
services and the expert care and medical attention
before, during and after these attacks, I dread to
consider the possible outcome.

I ran the London Marathon this year to raise money
to fund world-class asthma research. I do hope one
day, with the help of fundraising, we’ll find a cure
for asthma.”

To apply for one of
our charity places for the
London Marathon 2020, or to join
our team with your own place if
you’ve been successful in the ballot,
email the events team at
[email protected]

or visit

WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK: CALL 0300 222 5800 SUMMER 2019 19

£1,000What would you do EVJEARCYKWPOEETK

with a win of £1,000?

Enter the Asthma UK lottery today!

The Asthma UK Lottery is a fun way to help people with
asthma that gives you the chance to win cash prizes -
including the £1,000 jackpot - every single week!

WEEK £25

To enter, visit

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