World Asthma Day is celebrated every year on May 5 by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in an attempt to raise awareness about this condition and improve asthma care throughout the world. Every year, GINA picks a new theme and this year the theme is 'you can control your asthma' and the sub theme is 'It's time to control asthma'. On this note, let's take a look at one of the most important things that can help prevent severe asthma attacks.
Scientifically speaking, asthma has no cure. Although, health experts from all over the world have said that attempts are being made to improve cardiac fitness by working on both lungs and the heart to stabilize asthmatic patients. And this can be done with exercise. Swimming, jogging, cycling, basically anything that sets your heart rate going.
According to Vikas Maurya, head of the department of respiratory medicine, interventional pulmonology, allergy and sleep disorders at B.L.K. hospital, "It has been found that those patient who regularly do cardio exercises are able to reduce respiratory problems caused by asthma."
Emphasizing that cardio-exercise requires a lot muscle movement and raises the heart rate to at least 50 percent, Maurya said some of the benefits include decreased blood pressure, increased good cholesterol, decreased body fat, improved blood flow to the active muscles and helps to increase the heart and lung function. "As it improves lung function, it is beneficial for asthma patients," he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 235 million people currently suffering from asthma around the world. India has an estimated 15-20 million asthmatics and 15 percent of them die every year. Therefore, health experts suggest that the best cardio exercises for asthmatics include walking, biking, swimming, jogging and aerobics, while several researches are going on around the world to incorporate more exercises.
However, as it's not easy for an asthmatic to undertake physical activities, Deepak Khurana, director, cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at Rockland group of hospitals, said that the success rate of cardio-workouts depends on the "exercise tolerance" in asthmatic patients which is related to the patient's lung function capacity. "Patients who are diagnosed early or at a young age benefit more as they have improved lung function, reduced respiratory symptoms, and the threshold of exercise at which patient feels breathless is increased.
He added, "At a later stage patients are usually out of shape, they have less muscle mass and also asthma usually has had progressed to a higher stage requiring large number and increased doses of medications." Emphaising that patients should be counseled before suggesting exercises, he said they should be told to gradually increase the level and not instantly start with heavy activities.
Brijesh Paul of Kolkata-based Downtown Hospital concurred, adding that it was important for asthma patients to keep inhalers in easy reach prior to starting their workouts. "The more the patient works out, the better exercise-induced asthma gets. Patients may start with lower-intensity activities like swimming, walking, and so forth and work their way up over time," said Paul. However, he strictly cautioned against working out if the weather was foggy or smoggy.
With inputs from IANS