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More to Asthma than Meets the Air    Print Page

Where You Live With Asthma Matters, Air Quality is Just One of Many Factors

There is still no cure for asthma, so for 22 million people in the U.S., this chronic disease continues to be a daily burden no matter where they live.  AAFA’s new list of the 2013 Asthma Capitals report looks at asthma prevalence, environmental risk factors and patient medical utilization in the largest 100 cities to find the “most challenging places to live with asthma.”

Click for 2013 RankingsIt's Not Just About Air Pollution

But it’s not just air pollution patients should be worried about. Factors such as pollen, secondhand smoke – even high rates of poverty, a large uninsured population or a high number of ER visits – can be critical signs that certain cities and states are worse for families with asthma. It is especially true for people with severe asthma.

To create the rankings, AAFA assesses the 100 largest U.S. cities based on air pollution, ozone days, pollen counts, medication utilization, poverty rates and even public smoking laws – 12 factors overall – to produce a truly intimate profile of each city illustrating how “challenging” it is for people with asthma. Then, AAFA scores and ranks the cities based on the factors.

Richmond Rises, Again
This year Richmond, VA, has risen once again to the top of the Asthma Capitals list, up from #23 last year. But Richmond is no stranger to the top spot: the city was #1 in 2010 and 2011. This year, many key factors pushed Richmond back to the top, such as very high levels of year-round pollen, high rates of poverty and uninsured, no city smoking bans, a high crude death rate for asthma and a large number of annual emergency room visits for asthma. Here are the top 10 cities for this year.

1.   Asthma CapitalsRichmond, VA
2.   Chattanooga, TN
3.   Memphis, TN
4.   Philadelphia, PA
5.   Oklahoma City, OK
6.   Detroit, MI
7.   Dayton, OH
8.   McAllen, TX
9.   Atlanta, GA
10. Knoxville, TN

Severe Asthma and the Burden on Emergency Rooms

An estimated 5-10% of the asthma population is considered to have the most severe form of asthma and often do not respond well to conventional asthma treatments. People with severe asthma are likely to have more asthma attacks, visit emergency rooms (ERs) or be hospitalized more frequently, and are at greater risk of death. 

For the first time, this year AAFA added a new factor to the ranking assessment: emergency room (ER) visits for asthma. "Asthma accounts for approximately 13 million asthma attacks and 2 million ER visit each year in the U.S.,” according to Dr. Michael Wechsler, Director of the Asthma Program at National Jewish Health in Denver, CO, “and 500,000 of them result in hospitalizations, so this is a major problem because it costs patients and the healthcare system too much to care for asthma this way.”

Don't Move. Improve!

Nearly 22 million children and adults live with asthma all over the U.S., making it one of the most common and costly diseases. Experts agree that people can't move away from their asthma since every city in America has a variety of risk factors. Instead, people should work with an asthma specialist to improve their overall asthma management plan no matter where they live.

The Asthma Capitals is an annual research project to call attention to the asthma epidemic and to advocate for changes in each city to improve the quality of life for people with asthma. Dissemination of this year’s report is made possible by a sponsorship from Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) a leading manufacturer of medical devices, and additional support from patients and family donors to AAFA.

More Information About the 2013 rankings:

Additional Tools and Resources:

Support AAFA:

To speak with a member of AAFA's External Affairs staff about the research and rankings, call toll-free 1-800-7-ASTHMA or write to angel@aafa.org.  



Special thanks to our research partner Pollen.com a division of IMS Health.


Find Certified ProductsLooking for products that have been proven more suitable for people with asthma and allergies? Look for this mark and visit www.aafa.org/certified to find products and learn more. 

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