Simple test to help diagnose and manage asthma
2 Apr 2014 02:55 PM
simple test that measures the levels of nitric oxide a person is breathing out
to help with the diagnosis and management of asthma has been given the green
light by NICE.
NICE recommends three devices - NIOX MINO and
NIOX VERO (Aerocrine), and NObreath (Bedfont Scientific Ltd) - to measure
nitric oxide levels which are raised in people with asthma.
the UK, 5.4 million people are estimated to have asthma - the third highest
prevalence in the world - 1.1 million of whom are children. Asthma is the most
common long-term medical condition, and 1 in 11 children has
NICE recommends nitric oxide testing as an option in
diagnosing suspected cases of asthma, but other tests are needed to confirm the
diagnosis as recommended by the British guideline on the
management of asthma.
Nitric oxide testing is also recommended as an option to
support the management of asthma in people who still have symptoms despite
being treated with inhaled corticosteroids.
Measurement of nitric oxide, used alongside other
diagnostic options, may also help patients find the most appropriate medication
earlier and manage their symptoms better. This could help avoid admissions to
hospital caused by asthma attacks and improve patient
Professor Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology
Evaluation Centre Director, said: “Diagnosing asthma is often a very
complicated and lengthy process. Using these devices can provide additional
information for clinicians about those people who, following clinical
examination, are considered to have an intermediate probability of having
“But diagnosis is not straightforward because it
is based on both symptoms and response to treatment. The independent experts
who developed the guidance decided that nitric oxide testing should be used in
combination with other diagnostic options that are recommended by the British
guideline on the management of asthma.”
Professor Longson added: “People with some types
of asthma have higher levels of nitric oxide in the air they breathe out.
Treatment with corticosteroids helps to treat the symptoms of asthma and
reduces the level of nitric oxide in breath.
“In people already diagnosed with asthma,
measuring nitric oxide levels to guide their asthma management is likely to
reduce asthma attacks. The measurements can reveal whether they are taking
their medication as prescribed. Research suggests that as many as 30 per cent
of people do not take their medication to control their
part of the guidance development, NICE has been working with a number of
hospitals and GP surgeries across England to share their experience of using
the technology. This practical information and advice has been summarised in a pack to help centres
that may want to use the devices in the future.