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Published on April 25, 2017

Billings Clinic offers first of its kind procedure to treat adults with severe asthma

Bronchial Thermoplasty delivered by the Alair™ System proven safe, effective, lasting in reducing asthma attacks

Billings, MT— Billings Clinic now offers Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) delivered by the Alair™ System as a safe outpatient procedure that is proven to reduce asthma attacks and emergency rooms visits for at least five years in adult patients with severe asthma, and is shown to improve asthma-related quality of life for people living with the disease. 

More than 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, and approximately 5-10% suffers from severe asthma. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), managing uncontrolled asthma consumes over $18 billion of health care resources each year. In the U.S. each year, asthma attacks result in approximately 10 million outpatient visits, 2 million emergency rooms visits, 500,000 hospitalizations, and 3,300 deaths. 

Prior to the BT procedure, doctors had only pharmaceutical medications to offer their severe asthma patients temporary relief from asthma symptoms. Billings Clinic offers this first of its kind medical device procedure to provide severe asthma patients with a safe, long- lasting, and proven treatment option to help reduce asthma attacks. 

In a clinical study, 79 percent of patients treated with BT saw a significant improvement in their asthma-related quality of life. Asthma patients have become accustomed to avoiding the many environmental triggers that increase their risks of having an asthma attack, such as staying indoors during pollen or cold weather seasons, avoiding perfume and cigarette smoke, avoiding exercise or any type of exertion or stress. People with severe asthma can miss work, school, and even avoid traveling due to the effects of the disease. In addition, adults whose severe asthma symptoms persist despite taking the maximum tolerated medications are at risk of suffering life-threatening asthma attacks requiring immediate treatment at an emergency room. 

Clinical studies on Bronchial Thermoplasty

Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) delivered by the Alair™ System is a safe outpatient procedure that has been proven to reduce asthma attacks and emergency rooms visits for adult patients with severe asthma. In a clinical study, at year one compared to a control group, patients who had the BT procedure showed:

  • 32 percent reduction in severe asthma attacks
  • 84 percent reduction in emergency room visits for respiratory related symptoms
  • 66 percent fewer days lost from work, school, and other activities due to asthma symptoms

In addition, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology, published data confirming the lasting effectiveness and safety of BT, including:

  • The reduction in severe asthma attacks was maintained out to five years.
  • The reduction in emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms was maintained out to five years.
  • No increase in hospitalizations, asthma symptoms, or respiratory adverse events over the course of 5 years.

The Bronchial Thermoplasty procedure is not a substitute for pharmaceutical medication as prescribed by a doctor. It works along with pharmaceuticals to provide less risk of asthma attacks and its complications for those suffering from severe asthma.

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About Billings Clinic 

Billings Clinic is Montana’s largest health system serving Montana, Wyoming and the western Dakotas. A not-for-profit organization led by a physician CEO, Billings Clinic is governed by a board of community members, nurses and physicians. At its core, Billings Clinic is a physician-led, integrated multispecialty group practice with a 304-bed hospital and Level II trauma center. Billings Clinic has more than 4,000 employees, including more than 400 physicians and advanced practitioners offering more than 50 specialties. More information can be found at www.billingsclinic.com. 

About Bronchial Thermoplasty Delivered by the Alair System  

The Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty System is indicated for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta agonists. The Alair System is not for use in patients with an active implantable electronic device or known sensitivity to medications used in bronchoscopy. Previously treated airways of the lung should not be retreated with the Alair System. Patients should be stable and suitable to undergo bronchoscopy. The most common side effect of Bronchial Thermoplasty is an expected temporary transient increase in the frequency and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms.  

About the Study  

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology featured data from the Asthma Intervention Research 2 (AIR2) clinical trial examining the safety and effectiveness of the Boston Scientific Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) System. The long-term data are based on a post-approval study of BT-treated patients from the AIR2 Trial who were followed for a total of five years. 85 percent of patients who underwent BT treatment in the AIR2 Trial completed the five-year follow-up, demonstrating exceptionally strong patient retention for a study of this complexity and duration. 

About AAFA 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. AAFA provides practical information, community based services and support through a national network of chapters and support groups. AAFA develops health education, organizes state and national advocacy efforts and funds research to find better treatments and cures. For more information, visit www.AAFA.org.

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