Asthma is an inflammation-based condition that affects the airways via:
- Airway inflammation
- Airway obstruction
- hyperresponsiveness of the airways
Asthma leads to a persistent and potentially chronic inflamed and thickened airway wall with increased mucus production compared to a normal airway. During an asthmatic attack, airways become more obstructed as smooth muscle reacts and contracts, causing a constriction of the wall and narrowing of the airway.
Pharmacological intervention is used to support the acute inflammatory response in asthma. This is typically accomplished with both short and long-acting beta-agonists to improve ventilation. These are stimulants so they also increase HR and BP responses and help to increase exercise capacity. However, they do elevate HR and make it a bit more difficult to use as a prescription variable.
In addition, these beta-agonists may be used as rescue relief during the rapid onset of asthma-like symptoms, but can also be used as more of a long-term control.
Finally, corticosteroids can be used to help with the inflammatory responses associated with asthma but in turn may cause muscle weakness, fragility and negatively impact bone density.