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Overuse of short-acting β2-agonists in asthma is associated with increased risk of exacerbation and mortality: A nationwide cohort study of the global SABINA programme.

Journal article
Authors Bright I Nwaru
Magnus Ekström
Pål Hasvold
Fredrik Wiklund
Gunilla Telg
Christer Janson
Published in The European respiratory journal
Volume 55
Issue 4
ISSN 1399-3003
Publication year 2020
Published at Krefting Research Centre
Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine
Language en
Subject categories Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine


Overuse of short-acting β2 agonists (SABA) may indicate poor asthma control and adverse health outcomes. Contemporary population-based data on use, risk factors and impact of SABA (over)use on asthma exacerbations and mortality are scarce, prompting initiation of the global SABINA (SABA use IN Asthma) programme.By linking data from Swedish national registries, asthma patients aged 12-45 years with ≥2 collections of drugs for obstructive lung disease during 2006-2014 were included. SABA overuse defined as collection of >2 SABA canisters in a one-year baseline period following inclusion. SABA use was grouped into 3-5, 6-10 and 11+ canisters/baseline-year. Cox regression was used to examine associations between SABA use and exacerbation (hospitalisations and/or OCS claims) and mortality.The analysis included 365 324 asthma patients (mean age 27.6 years; 55% women), average follow-up was 85.4 months. Some 30% overused SABA, with 21% collecting 3-5 canisters, 7% 6-10 and 2% 11+ canisters·year-1. Increasing number of collected SABA canisters was associated with increased risk of exacerbation: 3-5 (HR 1.26; [95% CI] 1.24-1.28); 6-10 (1.44; 1.41-1.46); and 11+ canisters (1.77; 1.72-1.83) compared to ≤2 canisters·year-1. Higher SABA use was associated with incrementally increased mortality risk (2564 deaths observed): 3-5 (HR 1.26; 95% CI 1.14-1.39); 6-10 (1.67; 1.49-1.87); and 11+ canisters (2.35, 2.02-2.72) compared to ≤2 canisters·year-1.One-third of asthma patients in Sweden collected three or more SABA canisters annually. SABA overuse was associated with increased risks of exacerbation and mortality. These findings emphasise that monitoring of SABA usage should be key in improving asthma management.

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