Asthma attacks predicted from medical records

Managing severe asthma

Deadly asthma attacks could be predicted and prevented using routinely collected medical information.

Asthma kills three people every day in the UK, with a potentially life-threatening attack occurring every 10 seconds. Being able to predict these attacks could transform their impact. Now new research from our NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit has shown a way of doing just that.

Data on a massive scale

Looking at a single person’s symptoms tells us little about predicting attacks across the population, so the researchers analysed three years worth of 100,000 asthma patients’ anonymised medical records to spot any patterns.

The  study, published in the Journal of Clinical Allergy and Immunology,  looked at  19 risk indicators, including frequent reliever use, being put on a course of steroids and emergency visits.

Testing predictions

Using data only from the first year medical records, they predicted the number of asthma attacks each patient would have in the following two years, and found that their predictions accurately matched the actual figures.

This approach could save thousands of lives each year if included into asthma management nationally, identifying  those most at risk of recurring asthma attacks and ensuring they get the right care and monitoring.

Posted on Monday 9 January 2017