The cornerstone of asthma management, as advocated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is the establishment of a partnership between the patient and health care provider regarding the goals of asthma therapy and strategies to achieve them. One instrument used successfully to foster patient empowerment is an asthma action plan.

Frequently based on the traffic signal color-coded concept of green (go), yellow (caution) and red (danger), the action plan contains explicit instructions on treatment recommendations in the green zone (asthma doing well), yellow zone (asthma deterioration detected, intervention needed) and red zone (asthma exacerbation requiring urgent treatment).

Stepwise interventions focusing on attainment and maintenance of long-term asthma control are outlined in the Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma 2007, 1.usa.gov/1JqHfe9.

In addition to the long-term fluctuations in asthma symptoms, most patients experience sporadic acute loss of control that occurs...

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