Study: Many people with asthma or COPD experience nighttime symptoms

Most respiratory clinicians have heard the following complaint from a patient with asthma or COPD: “My symptoms wake me up at night.” Difficulty breathing at night may signal worsening disease and can make sleep challenging for asthma and COPD patients, disrupting much-needed rest and affecting patient well-being during the day.

At the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2019 this week, Propeller presented data on rescue inhaler use, collected with Propeller’s digital health platform, that reveals new insights about nighttime symptoms of asthma and COPD.

The research, conducted in partnership with Children’s Hospital Colorado, is the first to use digital health data to study how patients experience nocturnal symptoms of asthma and COPD, rather than relying on patient recall or manual tracking.

To study nighttime symptoms, Propeller analyzed rescue inhaler use data from 1,930 asthma and 591 COPD patients over the course of 180 days. Rescue inhaler use was quantified nightly and hourly, and was compared by disease and age.

The study found that the prevalence of nighttime symptoms was high for patients with COPD and asthma. During the six months of observation, patients experienced a median of five nighttime events for asthma and 16 for COPD. Eight percent of asthma patients and 22% of COPD patients had more than two nighttime events a week.

This data could prove useful in targeting interventions to high-risk asthma and COPD patients who experience sleep disturbance requiring SABA and they may be at greater risk for exacerbations. The research adds to a growing body of evidence that digital health tools for asthma and COPD can reveal new insights about the conditions and contribute to more effective self-management and physician intervention.

This research was presented in poster format at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2019 this week. For more information on Propeller’s body of research, visit our Outcomes page.

If you’re a clinician, you can contact Propeller about using our platform in your practice at [email protected].