Jeff Craddock works on a construction site, but it's not the saws or hammers that make his job dangerous.
"We have either the saw dust or the dry wall dust, or we have the insulation back here," said Craddock.
He feared he'd have to sell his business to save his life.
"I would have to use a rescue inhaler at a minimum, three, four, five times a day."
When medication failed, he tried a new approach called bronchial thermoplasty. With normal breathing, the airways of the lungs are fully open. People with severe asthma have more muscle surrounding their airways. This excess muscle combined with inflammation makes the walls even thicker. During bronchial thermoplasty, a small tube is inserted through the mouth or nose into the lungs. The catheter delivers radiofrequency energy to the muscles around the windpipe.
"This brings the wires in contact with the lining of the breathing tube," David R. Duhamel, MD, FCCP, Director of the Pulmonary Special Procedures Unit at Virginia Hospital Center told Ivanhoe.
The heat prevents the muscles from contracting and narrowing during an attack.
"It's about the temperature of a warm cup of coffee. It's not burning, it's not sparking, it's not ablating anything," said Dr. Duhamel.
A new study shows a 32 percent reduction in asthma attacks, 84 percent drop in ER visits, 73 percent reduction in hospital stays and 66 percent drop in lost time from work or school.
The new therapy allowed Craddock to do chores that used to take his breath away.
"Breathing in, it doesn't affect me anymore. I'm not at home just trying to exist. I'm actually working," said Craddock.
Working hard and breathing easier for the first time, in a long time.
Dr. Duhamel stresses, this treatment does not cure asthma; it only improves the patient's quality of life and helps them breathe easier. There's little risk since there is no incision, but patients may suffer from worse asthma symptoms in the days immediately following the procedure.
If you would like more information, please contact:
David R. Duhamel, M.D., FCCP
Virginia Hospital Center