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Asthma Clinic

No matter what type of asthma you have or how long you’ve had it, you’ll find the care and support you need at VCU Health. We offer advanced treatments to help you breathe easier and feel better, with fewer sick days or trips to the emergency room.

If you’ve tried different asthma treatments but still have frequent flare-ups — and your symptoms make it hard to work, sleep or stay active — it may be time to see a severe asthma specialist.

VCU Health is home to Richmond’s first multidisciplinary clinic for adults with uncontrolled and severe asthma. Our pulmonologists routinely help people who:

  • Can’t find relief with standard or high-dose treatments
  • Have troubling side effects caused by frequent use of oral steroids or other medications
  • Need to use their rescue inhaler several times a week
  • Sometimes have asthma attacks that require hospital care

Our Approach to Severe Asthma Care

Most people with asthma have similar symptoms. These include:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

However, two people with the same symptoms may not respond to the same therapies. That’s because treatments work best when they target the underlying cause of your asthma.

Our team uses a careful, complete approach to confirm your asthma type and identify your triggers. By understanding what drives your asthma symptoms — whether it’s allergies, exercise, cold weather or stress — we can pinpoint the best ways to manage your symptoms and prevent attacks.

The Right Asthma Treatment Starts with the Right Diagnosis

Our team uses different tests that, together, help confirm your previous asthma diagnosis is correct. These include:

  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) testing. You blow into a small machine that measures whether your breath contains nitric oxide. High levels of nitric oxide indicate there is inflammation in your airways. Your results can help us determine whether your asthma medications need adjustment.
  • Methacholine challenge testing. You’ll inhale controlled amounts of methacholine, a drug that can cause the airways to narrow. Your provider will measure any airway constriction that occurs and confirm whether it impacts your ability to breathe.
  • Exercise testing. We offer different types of exercise testing. These tests can show whether your asthma is triggered by exercise. We also offer specialized tests that measure your exercise capacity and collect information about heart & lungs at the same time to help understand the reason of shortness of breath.
  • Spirometry. After taking a deep breath, you blow air into a machine that measures how much air (and how quickly) you can exhale. This test helps determine whether your airways are too narrow. If your results improve after inhaling asthma medication, it usually indicates you have asthma instead of a different condition that causes similar symptoms.
  • Blood tests. We’ll look at a blood sample under a microscope to see if it contains excessive special white blood cells called eosinophils. High levels of eosinophils can cause chronic lung inflammation and a type of asthma called eosinophilic asthma. We can also look at blood test to find out what types of allergies you have.
  • Bronchoscopy. Some patients need advanced testing including an evaluation of their airways with an endoscope to collect specimens from lungs to help better understand their diagnosis and the type of inflammation in their lungs.

Along with your medical history, your test results help determine your treatment plan. For example, we might confirm your current inhaler isn’t ideal for your type of asthma and switch you to a different one. Or we might prescribe new medicine, such as injectable or IV drugs called biologics, that help prevent airway inflammation. When other therapies fail, we also provide the option of bronchial thermoplasty, a treatment for severe asthma that involves delivery of controlled, therapeutic radiofrequency energy to the airway wall to help reduce inflammation and smooth muscle swelling.

Why Choose VCU Health for Severe Asthma Care

People throughout central Virginia trust our team to manage their severe asthma because we offer:

  • Unmatched expertise. The latest treatments for severe asthma, including biologics, can help people who thought they were out of options. But these drugs must be prescribed and overseen by specially trained asthma specialists — like those at VCU Health — who know how to prescribe the right therapy to the right patient. If you use these medicines, you need to be monitored by an experienced specialist who understands which side effects and complications to watch for.
  • Access to clinical trials. Our pulmonologists are also researchers. They routinely lead clinical trials and other research studies to evaluate new asthma treatments. This means our patients often have the opportunity to try the most promising new therapies before they’re widely available.
  • Multispecialty care. Many patients with severe asthma have other medical problems that make their symptoms worse or hard to manage. These include allergies, vocal cord problems, sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea. If you need help managing one of these conditions, we’ll refer you to another VCU Health specialist who can help. We’ll work together to improve not just your asthma, but your overall health and quality of life.

Contact Us

Make an Appointment

If your health insurance plan requires you to have a referral before seeing an asthma specialist, start with your primary care provider.

If you don’t need a referral, you can schedule an appointment by calling (804) 828-2161 and select option 4. You can also request an appointment online. If you have medical records related to your previous asthma treatments from other providers, please arrange to have them faxed to (804) 828-2578 before your appointment.

Refer Your Patient

We appreciate the opportunity to help you care for your patients with uncontrolled asthma. To refer a patient for further evaluation or treatment, please call (804) 828-2161 and select option 5.We appreciate the opportunity to help you care for your patients with uncontrolled asthma. To refer a patient for further evaluation or treatment, please call (804) 828-2161 and select option 5.

Our Providers

Dr. Farrukh Abbas is an asthma expert and the director of the asthma clinic. Patients have the option to see Dr. Abbas at either Stony Point 9000 or the Adult Outpatient Pavilion located in downtown Richmond.

Stephanie Bork is a nurse practitioner who specializes in the care of asthma patients and has vast experience managing patients with severe asthma. She sees patients at the Adult Outpatient Pavilion.

Other specialists who collaborate with our providers to help manage conditions associated with asthma include Dr. Santosh Kumar, Dr. Jamie Moor, Dr. Theodore Schuman and Dr. Susan Wolver.

Farrukh Abbas, MD

Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine

Stephanie Bork, MSN, FNP-BC, APRN

Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine

Santhosh Kumar, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI

Allergy and Immunology
Pediatric Eosinophilic Esophagitis Clinic
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU Logo

Susan Wolver, MD

Weight Loss, Medical
Primary Care