Those with severe asthma offered radical treatment - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Those with severe asthma offered radical treatment

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's a new treatment option for people with severe asthma.

It's called bronchial thermoplasty. It involves snaking a wire inside the lungs to melt off some of the tissue that squeezes airways shut.

The Alair system, rolling out this month, isn't a cure, and it's not without risk. But it's the first method of physically altering spasm-prone airways.

A spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology calls it "a very novel, very innovative treatment," but only for the right patient.

It's meant for those who have severe disease and experience frequent attacks despite daily medication. Up to 15 percent of asthma patients fall into that category.

About 22 million Americans have asthma, and medications offer good control for many of them. But asthma kills about 4,000 people a year and hospitalizes at least half a million.

Asthmatx Inc. estimates its Alair system, which the Food and Drug Administration approved last week, could target up to 2 million adults.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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