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December 1986

Natural History of Asthma in Patients Requiring Long-term Systemic Corticosteroids

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Allergy-Immunology, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago.

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(12):2369-2372. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360240095016

• To study the natural history of corticosteroid-dependent asthma, we evaluated 40 randomly selected adult patients with severe asthma who were refractory to management with inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators and who required long-term prednisone therapy (mean duration, 6.2 ±5.1 years). During long-term observation, 13 patients (32.5%) significantly improved; ten (25%) of these tolerated discontinuation of long-term prednisone use and three (7.5%) had decreased prednisone requirements. Three patients (7.5%) had increased requirements for prednisone. Twenty-four patients (60%) had generally unchanged, long-term prednisone requirements; of note, eight of these had significant, but temporary intervals (mean, 3.2 years) when they could be managed without prednisone. Patients with mixed asthma were more likely to tolerate discontinuation of long-term prednisone; no other factors studied were predictive of the course of asthma. Although prior to our care many patients had a history of numerous emergency room visits and hospitalizations (some for life-threatening episodes of status

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