A recent report claims that switching to ‘green’ inhalers could reduce carbon emissions and cut costs. The study, led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, finds that metered-does inhalers contribute approximately 3.9% of the carbon footprint of the NHS. This is due to the hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellants found in these asthma inhalers. HFAs, like CFCs before them, are potent greenhouse gases. As a result, there is a call to switch to alternatives that have a lower carbon footprint.
The report suggests alternatives to metered-dose inhalers include dry powder inhalers and aqueous mist inhalers. However, these have a higher “up-front” price.
“It’s important to stress that patients shouldn’t stop using their usual treatments to reduce their carbon footprint. Instead we recommend patients review their condition and treatment at least annually with their healthcare professional and at this point discuss whether a more environmentally-friendly inhaler is available and appropriate in their situation.”Dr Alexander Wilkinson, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine from East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.
IMT reduces asthma inhaler use
In other research, Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) reduces the number of puffs on asthma inhalers, from 3.9 to 1.6 per day.
Reduction in use of asthma inhalers
Three separate studies into the use of inspiratory muscle training in patients with asthma observe an average 51% reduction in β2-agonist consumption1,2,3. A further study2 finds a decrease in corticosteroid use by asthma patients ~80%. Beta agonists relax muscles of the airways while corticosteroids reduce airway inflammation.
Breathing not only presents a limitation to athletes but also impacts people with respiratory illness, such as asthma. It is this recognition that began research into Inspiratory Muscle Training.
POWERbreathe Medic for asthma
One such IMT device, the POWERbreathe Medic, is available for prescription in the UK by the NHS. It is an evidence-based, drug-free treatment for patients with difficult or laboured breathing, especially those with asthma, COPD and heart failure.
POWERbreathe International Ltd. Managing Director Harry Brar says:
“Because POWERbreathe IMT is drug-free it can be used in combination with traditional asthma medication.
“By using POWERbreathe IMT to strengthen their breathing muscles, asthma patients will find that their breathing technique improves too, enabling them to inhale their medication past the back of the throat to reach the areas where it can be of most benefit.”
Developed by scientists at leading UK universities, POWERbreathe IMT is being used in clinical trials for use in clinical medicine and home healthcare.
POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training is a recent topic of interest at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress, Madrid. Furthermore, the pre-conference workshop at Transform uses the POWERbreathe device to demonstrate IMT. Transform is the physiotherapy conference in Adelaide, led by Rik Gosselink, Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences KU Leuven, PT Respiratory Rehabilitation, University Hospital Leuven.
1.Weiner P, Azgad Y, Ganam R, Weiner M. Inspiratory muscle training in patients with bronchial asthma. Chest. 1992;102(5):1357-61.
2.Weiner P, Berar-Yanay N, Davidovich A, Magadle R, Weiner M. Specific inspiratory muscle training in patients with mild asthma with high consumption of inhaled beta(2)-agonists. Chest. 2000;117(3):722-7.
3. Weiner P, Magadle R, Massarwa F, Beckerman M, Berar-Yanay N. Influence of gender and inspiratory muscle training on the perception of dyspnea in patients with asthma. Chest. 2002;122(1):197-201.