New procedure alleviates severe asthma -

Relief for severe asthma

For years, horse lover Becky Moysey, 55, had to hang up her reins. Her asthma was just too bad.

"Waking up in the middle of the night; can't catch your breath; not being able to keep up with others," said Moysey. "I just got so much sicker than other people, and just coughed and coughed and coughed and wheezed."

Moysey has had varying degrees of asthma her entire life. Over the last few years, it had gotten a lot worse and she was on a number of medications, including steroids, to control her symptoms. She became nearly inactive, and even had to go on disability because the illness became a hindrance. She could only spend limited time outside.

"I took a shot once a month -- Zolair," said Moysey. "I was on three different inhalers, oral steroids. Doing it all. Breathing treatments."

Her allergist referred her to a doctor who then referred her to Dr. Sadia Benzaquen at UC Health, Cincinnati's only interventional pulmonologist.

For Moysey and other severe asthma sufferers, the problem is their airways. Their breathing tubes have a layer of thick muscle around them. It tightens up and sometimes makes it nearly impossible for them to breathe. However, a new procedure called bronchial thermoplasty can help.

Dr. Benzaquen said he actually helped conduct the trials for the procedure in Chicago. The FDA approved it in 2010.

The doctor inserts a flexible tube through the nose or mouth into the bronchial tree. The tip has a camera, and is also where the catheter comes out. That catheter heats up the walls of the airways and gets rid of some of that extra muscle.

"After you complete the treatment, three months after that is when we're going to see the effects of the treatment," said Dr. Benzaquen.

Moysey said she started experiencing relief in just six weeks.

The procedure is done in three visits, for about 30 minutes each time, and patients are able to go home that same day. It's recently been performed at dozens of medical centers nationwide.

"If {asthma} is really severe, they can be disabled from the disease," said Dr. Benzaquen. "Doing this procedure and helping them, I feel really good."

It's helped Moysey get back on her horse and regain her life.

Dr. Benzaquen said she's his first patient here in the Tri-State to undergo the procedure, and Moysey's already noticed a difference in just four months.

"At one time, I could only go maybe one time around in a canter," said Moysey. "Now I can go quite a while, and {my horse, Angel} is like 'Oh my gosh! She's making me work!'"

Patients must be at least 18 years old and you can only have the procedure done once in your lifetime. Dr. Benzaquen said it won't work for everyone. As far as insurance, it's a new procedure, but we're told insurance should cover the cost.

Researchers say patients in the clinical trials experienced a 32 percent reduction in asthma attacks, an 84 percent reduction in emergency room visits and a 73 percent reduction in hospitalizations.

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