The management of asthmatic smokers

José Miguel Chatkin Email author and Cynthia Rocha Dullius

 

Abstract

Asthma is still a major public health problem in most countries; new strategies to better control this disease are necessary. Such strategies must include predisposing factors. One of these factors is smoking and a significant fraction of asthmatics are smokers. However, clinical trials studying new drugs or newer therapeutic regimens for asthma generally exclude smokers. Therefore, there is a lack of specific information about the treatment of asthma in smokers. The asthmatic smoker is a special phenotype with important therapeutic and prognostic clinical implications. Any form of tobacco use, especially cigarette smoking, plays an important role in this disease. Asthmatic smokers are prone to several negative outcomes. Smoking cessation results in an improvement of symptoms and pulmonary functioning. Counselling and first-line medications for smoking cessation (nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion and varenicline) significantly increase quitting rates. The role of electronic cigarettes in this group of patients has only begun to be studied. The treatment of asthmatics that smoke has characteristics that need must be well understood by clinicians, especially the poor response to corticosteroids. This condition is not universal and physicians should always consider its inclusion in the treatment of these patients. The association of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) plus a long-acting beta2 adrenegic (LABA) by smoking asthmatics results in more pronounced improvement in several asthma outcomes compared with the use of corticosteroid alone. Inhaled corticosteroids in extra-fine particles associated with LABA may be a new perspective of treatment. Also the use of leukotriene antagonists may become another therapeutic alternative. The purpose of this narrative review is to discuss the challenges faced by clinicians to control asthma in smokers and to present methods of coping with smoking treatment and avoiding relapses.

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Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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