Alisha Styles, 37, never takes a single breath for granted. She spent years in and out of the hospital due to severe asthma, sometimes relying on a ventilator to move air in and out of her lungs because she couldn’t breathe on her own. Styles constantly felt fatigued, was unable to play with her four children or even walk short distances without needing her rescue inhaler until she underwent bronchial thermoplasty.
Bronchial thermoplasty works by applying heat directly to the inflamed airways and is the first FDA approved non-drug therapy for treatment of severe asthma.
During this procedure the patient is sedated before the physician inserts a bronchoscope through the patient’s mouth and into the lungs. Then the Alair catheter expands to make contact with the airway walls and applies heat. That thermal energy forces the swelled muscle tissue to contract, which makes breathing easier. The procedure takes about an hour and the patient undergoes a series of three treatments, three weeks apart.
After the second treatment, Styles said she could walk into a store without reaching for her inhaler and she didn’t have to lean against the cart to catch her breath. Ten weeks after beginning bronchial thermoplasty, she is using her asthma medications less often and she even lost seven pounds. To celebrate, she is walking in the 2014 Winter Haven Hospital Foundation Citrus Classic 5K Saturday at LEGOLAND, something she never imagined she would be able to complete.
Styles’ physician and members of the Winter Haven Hospital Endoscopy Department are so thrilled by her triumph they are walking in the race with her.
“They knew me, were nice, showed teamwork and everyone was excited,” Styles said.
Winter Haven Hospital is the only hospital in Polk County performing bronchial thermoplasty.