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Historical perspective Asthma is a disease whose ability to cause episodic

Summary: Historical perspective
Asthma is a disease whose ability to cause episodic
symptomatology has been appreciated since antiqui-
ty. Although the fine points of the definition can be
debated, it is reasonable to think of asthma as a pul-
monary disorder characterized by the generalized
reversible obstruction of airflow and to define
reversibility as a greater than 12% increase in the
patient's forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)
that occurs either spontaneously or with therapy. Air-
way hyperresponsiveness, an exaggerated bron-
chospastic response to nonspecific agents such as
methacholine and histamine or specific antigens, is
the physiologic cornerstone of this disorder. A diag-
nosis of asthma is established based on a history of
recurrent wheeze, cough, or shortness of breath,
reversible airway obstruction demonstrated by pul-
monary-function testing, and, in cases where ques-
tions exist, a methacholine challenge demonstrating
airway hyperresponsiveness. It has long been assumed


Source: Akabas, Myles - Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University


Collections: Biology and Medicine