According to a new Mayo Clinic study, stepping down asthma medication can be done safely and at less cost to the patient with proper guidance. A Science Daily news report notes that deciding when to step down daily asthma medicines can be challenging, and it would be helpful for patients to understand the risks involved. Led by Matthew Rank, MD, the study analyzed asthma outcomes after patients stepped down asthma medicines. The researchers studied more than 4,000 adults and children who were taking daily asthma medicines.

The research team focused their analysis on two groups: patients who had stable asthma for at least 1 year who stayed on their same daily asthma medicine and patients who had stable asthma for at least 1 year who stepped down their daily asthma medicine. The study found that stepping down asthma medicines in patients who have had stable asthma for at least 1 year appears to be as safe as continuing the same level of medicines, according to Science Daily.

The study also found that only 11% of patients had problems with their asthma in the 4 to 5 months after stepping down their medication. Rank says, “Trying to reduce the daily asthma medicine speaks to the principle of using the least amount of medicine to control symptoms and prevent attacks.”

The research study also considered the financial costs. Patients who stepped down their asthma medicines saved an average of $34 each month when compared to patients who maintained their same level of medication. The authors of the study did not find increased costs for patients who stepped down for hospital or emergency asthma care, as indicated on the Science Daily report.

In addition, patients who stepped down their medicine use did not miss any more work or school than patients who kept their medicines at the same level.

“This study is important because many people with asthma may be able to safely reduce their asthma medicines with the appropriate guidance from their healthcare teams,” Rank says. “Many patients try to step down on their own but we encourage patients to work with their doctors before doing so.”

Source: Science Daily