New device gives hope to asthma sufferers

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A new device, similar to a tiny whisk, which is inserted into the lungs, is proving to be a successful treatment for people with severe asthma.

The technique is known as bronchial thermoplasty (BT) and is used in cases of persistent asthma that cannot be controlled with normal medication. The device is less than 3mm in diameter and emits radio waves that heat the airways. This shrinks scarred, thickened lung tissue, which aids breathing.

In the UK, 50 patients have so far received BT. After the treatment, asthma sufferers reported a 32% reduction in asthma attacks, and there was an 4% reduction in accident and emergency visits.

Other treatments, such as a short course of powerful steroids, can also be used to control severe asthma symptoms, but can have negative side-effects. Experts hope that BT will prove a successful alternative to existing treatment methods.

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