For those who experience difficulty in managing the severe symptoms of asthma, a new treatment option is available that has some asthma sufferers breathing a sigh of relief. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Sidney Fine is one of about 16 million American adults living with asthma.
It is a condition he's had all of his life, but over the last year and a half, his symptoms have gotten progressively worse.
"I find that even normal household chores, like vacuuming or something like that, you know, I wear an face mask with a hepa-filter vacuum cleaner can set off an acute asthmatic episode," Fine says.
He's now on eight different medications to try and control the asthma.
"Nothing seems to be working to adequately control it," Fine says.
Fine is a perfect candidate for a bronchial thermoplasty, or B-T, a new procedure being performed at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens.
"Someone who is still having exacerbations and ending up in the emergency room and the hospital, despite being on good medication, getting good asthma care," says Jamaica Hospital Pulmonary Medicine Director Dr. Craig Thurm.
Thurm is the head pulmonologist at Jamaica Hospital, where emergency room discharge rates for asthma patients are among the highest in the borough.
He says B-T is now another option for the most severe cases.
"People with bad asthma have increased mass of the muscle in the airway, so the bronchial thermoplasty procedure is one where you’re putting a catheter into the airways through a scope," Thurm says.
Thermal energy, or heat, is then applied to the walls of the airway to reduce its thickness, allowing more air to pass.
"For patients where there's a benefit, I suspect most of them will report less asthma exacerbations, possibly less symptoms," Thurm says.
Which is what Fine is hoping for - less severe attacks and trips to the hospital.
While it's not a cure, it's something.
"It's an opportunity for me to regain control of my life, so to me it was a no-brainer," Fine says.
So far, Fine has undergone one of the three required procedures.
For some it hasn't worked, though for others, studies have shown a significant reduction in severe attacks long term.
But as of right now, the procedures is not covered by most insurance providers.