Asthma Mortality Rate Higher For Blacks Than White Americans

Black Patients More Likely To Die From Asthma

A new study revealed that African-Americans have a higher mortality rate than white Americans during asthma attacks.

According to researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, black men and women are two to three times more likely than whites to be hospitalized or die from asthma.

Why is asthma worse for black Americans?

The researchers now think they know the reason.

According to the study, one reason why black Americans are less responsive to asthma treatment and more likely to die from the condition, is because they have a unique type of airway inflammation.

Airway inflammation is a key part of asthma. Aside from that, innovations in treatment are becoming more personalized based on the specific type of airway inflammation in a patient.

This study was led Dr. Sharmilee Nyenhuis, assistant professor of medicine at UIC.

An asthma inhaler.
An asthma inhaler.

Blame it on Differences in Airway Inflammation

The researchers pointed out that differences in airway inflmmation can affect a patient’s response to treatment.

However, the researchers found out that black patients were more likely to show eosinophilic airway inflammation than whites, despite taking comparable doses of asthma medication, such as inhaled corticosteroids.

Dr. Sharmilee Nyenhuis, the lead author of the study said, “Our findings of higher numbers of African Americans with this type of airway inflammatory pattern suggests a mechanism that may account for more severe and difficult to control asthma in African Americans,” said Nyenhuis.

Nyenhuis stressed, “It follows that the persistence of eosinophilic airway inflammation in African Americans may be associated with asthma exacerbations and an impaired response to corticosteroids.”

The findings suggest that black patients with eosinophilic airway inflammation may not benefit from increasingly strong corticosteroid treatment.

The Study

The researchers undertook one of the largest and most diverse trials conducted in the U.S. on race and asthma where they performed a secondary analysis of more than 1,000 sputum samples obtained from AsthmaNet, a nationwide clinical research network created by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and the Asthma Clinical Research Network.

The researchers gathered samples of the coughed-up fluids were from past clinical trial participants over the age of 12 with mild or moderate persistent asthma and who had not smoked within the last year. These samples then were tested for the presence of eosinophils-a type of white blood cell.

Asthma is Deadly

Asthma causes swelling of the airways that results in narrowing of the airways. When this happens, the patient will have trouble breathing. In severe cases asthma can be deadly. In fact, ten Americans die from asthma daily, and and in 2014, 3,651 people died from asthma. Many of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.