Asthma continues to be a major health problem throughout the world and affects over 5 % of the population in industrialized countries. There is epidemiological evidence for an increasing prevalence of asthma throughout the world, particularly in children, and evidence for increasing morbidity and mortality in many countries. The reasons for this universal epidemic are not yet certain, and there is a need for better understanding of the fundamental pathophysiological and molecular mechanisms of asthma. W e also need to understand how current treatment for asthma works and how best to apply it to control this important disease.
The first edition of this book appeared in 1988 and provided a comprehensive overview of asthma mechanisms and therapy. A second edition, which encompassed the many changes in understanding and therapy of asthma, appeared in 1992. Both editions were widely acclaimed and became ‘best-sellers’ in the field. Because knowledge about asthma has continued to advance very rapidly, with new concepts, the development of new therapeutic agents and changes in asthma management, we thought that it was timely to produce a third edition.
This new edition incorporates the many changes in our understanding of asthma that have occurred in recent years; this has involved radical revision of most chapters and the addition of several new chapters. We have selected internationally recognized experts who are at the forefront of research as contributors and we are very grateful to all of them for their outstanding and up-to-date contributions and for producing their manuscripts on time. This book brings together all the recent information on basic mechanisms of asthma and also covers clinical aspects and therapy in depth. This integrated approach should appeal to both basic researchers and to clinicians who need to keep abreast of recent developments in this rapidly expanding field.