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Living Healthy

New surgery improves breathing in asthma patients

BOSTON (WHDH) -- A new surgery could help asthma patients breathe easier.

It's the first drug-free way to relieve symptoms.

Ever since Virginia Rady was a child, she's had to deal with what so many Americans also struggle with - asthma.

"I've got to have this normal childhood experience I never got to do P.E. when I was younger and the other kids made fun of me because of that," said Rady.

The recent newlywed wants to start a family but the asthma medication she's on, she says would affect having a little one in the future.

"Not yet, we're waiting a couple of more years, but you want to have that energy, I want to keep up," said Rady.

But now, due in part to an innovative surgery, the chance of Rady suffering an asthma attack will be dramatically reduced.

"It's certainly the first therapy for asthma that's a non-drug therapy," said Dr. Gary Weinstein, a pulmonologist.

The surgery is called bronchial thermo-plasty. Radio frequency heat is applied to the smooth muscles in the lung's bronchial passages. It's done in three different procedures.

All of it is to eliminate unnecessary smooth muscles that trigger asthma attacks.

However, if you think this is a miracle cure to asthma - it's not.

"What we anticipate and hope that we will get better control their asthma symptoms and flares and appropriately reduce their medicine," said Dr. Weinstein.

Rady does encourage asthma sufferers to look into the option.

"It's going to be amazing not to worry about that anymore to not have to take a tons of mediciation and be trapped by it," said Rady.

According to the World Health Organization, asthma affects over 235 million people worldwide - 25 million of them in the United States.

That breaks down to about one in every twelve Americans suffering from asthma.