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High-tech help fighting asthma

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WOODLAND, Calif. -

Duffy Minges never leaves her home without her asthma inhaler.

"Any time I went outside that was a given," she said. "I would notice that wow, I feel not so good anymore... harder to breathe."

Like many asthma sufferers, Minges didn't know what was triggering her attacks. So the 42-year-old enrolled in a clinical trial that's testing a new high-tech inhaler.

A wireless sensor sits on top of a regular inhaler. Any time a patient takes a puff, maps show when and where the inhaler was used and records how much medication was used. That information is sent to the doctor.

"With the device, essentially the sensor becomes your diary electronically," said Dr. Rajan Merchant of Woodland Healthcare.

Researchers hope this high-tech inhaler will help them determine which areas are hot spots.

"It helps us isolate where they may be having problems," Merchant said.

Merchant is testing the device for Asthmapolis which received Food and Drug Administration clearance last year.

After looking at data from Minges' inhaler, doctors ordered more allergy tests to pinpoint her triggers. Now, she's on new medication and doesn't have to use her inhaler as much.

"Now I can breathe. And I'm not as exhausted anymore," she said.

She knows the Bermuda grass on her lawn and olive trees are big triggers to avoid outside.

In studies from Asthmapolis, researchers have found more than 70 percent of patients improved control of their asthma after three months of using the system.

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