23 September 2007

Some Useful Tidbits on Asthma

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Taking Control Of Asthma

by Christopher H. Fanta (Author), Lynda M. Cristiano (Author), Kenan Haver (Author)

Leukotriene Inhibitors

[From link above:]
"Molecular biology promises to provide drugs that will control our immunologic and biochemical reactions. Several pharmaceutical companies are now producing leukotriene receptor blockers - the first of the new line of agents being developed to control the inflammatory response in asthma. The first agents coming to market in Canada are zafirlukast (Accolate) and montelukast (Singulair). Both act by blocking the most potent of the leukotrienes, L4. Asthma is felt to be due to allergens triggering an inflammatory response. .... Leukotrienes were found to be the active factor in the old SRSA (slow releasing substance of anaphylaxis) first described in 1938. They are 1000x more potent in inducing bronchospasm than histamine. They are part of the lipoxygenase pathway that is also involved in prostoglandin production. These pathways are also used in allergic rhinitis. At the moment, leukotrienes are hoped to be the appendix of the immune system - of no good use, but known to cause problems....."

Beta Blockers & Asthma

[From link above:]
"What is a beta-blocker? A beta-blocker is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems. Some beta-blockers are atenolol (brand name: Tenormin), metoprolol (brand names: Lopressor, Toprol XL) and propranolol (brand name: Inderal). A beta-blocker blocks the harmful effects of stress hormones on your heart. This medicine also slows your heart rate. Beta-blockers can also be used to prevent migraine headaches in people who get them frequently. Can I take a beta-blocker if I have asthma or chronic lung disease? Beta-blockers are generally not used in people with asthma. A beta-blocker can cause asthma attacks.... "


[From link above:]
"Beta-agonists are bronchodilator medicines that open airways by relaxing the muscles around the airways that tighten during an asthma attack....
Beta-agonists come in many different forms. Some common beta-agonist medicines are: albuterol, Alupent, Brethine, metaproteronol, Metaprel, Proventil, Salbutamol, terbutaline, Ventolin. "

The concept of "Pre-treatment" with beta-agonist

Preventing Respiratory Viruses

[From Harvard Med. Guide above:]
"Most viruses are spread from oral or nasal secretions onto surfaces, are picked up by hand contact, and are then spread from your hands to your nose and mouth. So wash your hands frequently..."


Eosinophils: mischief-makers in asthma

[From link above:]
"Whatever are eosinophils?

Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell (corpuscle) and take up the red dye eosin when blood is examined under a microscope by the commonest method.

They accumulate wherever allergic reactions like those in asthma take place. Their natural role is to defend us against parasites. In fact allergies such as asthma are probably a malfunction of our protective mechanism against parasites...."