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    Asthma is a common chronic airways disease. The goal of asthma management is to control symptoms while minimizing the side effects of treatment. Following a period of stable asthma, clinicians should consider stepping down treatment. This approach is recommended by current guidelines. Step-down has been studied for several types of asthma drug regimens, and certain approaches may have lower risk than others. Systematic reviews of multiple trials support the following specific step-down approaches: optimizing inhaled corticosteroid dosing when stepping down oral corticosteroid, reducing inhaled corticosteroid from a higher dose, lowering inhaled corticosteroid-long acting bronchodilator (ICS-LABA) dose while adding ICS-LABA on-demand, adding leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA) while lowering inhaled corticosteroid dose, and using allergen immunotherapy when reducing inhaled corticosteroid from a higher dose. Systematic reviews of multiple trials support an increased risk of asthma exacerbation for patients who completely stop taking inhaled corticosteroid or long acting bronchodilator. Strategies to implement step-down in practice include the use of risk prediction as well as tools to support shared decision making and communication about risk between clinicians and patients. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to


    Michael R Gionfriddo, John B Hagan, Matthew A Rank. Why and how to step down chronic asthma drugs. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 2017 Oct 16;359:j4438

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    PMID: 29038166

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