WASHINGTON, May 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, on World Asthma Day, more than 300 million people worldwide are living with asthma, and nearly 25 million of them live right here in the U.S. But for all the talk of the global asthma epidemic, there are plenty of everyday reminders that asthma problems – and solutions – are local.
Today the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has released their 2012 Asthma Capitals™ rankings, naming the 100 "most challenging places to live with asthma" in the U.S. This year Memphis, Tennessee, occupies the #1 spot on the list, up from #3 last year. The report is part of the Foundation's effort to educate patients and families about asthma and help people recognize, prevent and safely manage the disease. The top 10 Asthma Capitals for 2012 are:
"Many local community issues like air pollution, poverty or crowded emergency rooms are asthma-related issues that affect one patient at a time, one day at a time, right here in our own cities and towns," according to Bill McLin, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), "and people with severe asthma are most at risk."
Air pollution isn't the only trigger for asthma, so to determine the rankings, researchers look at 12 sets of data for the 100 largest U.S. cities including prevalence factors, risk factors and medical factors. AAFA assesses air pollution, ozone days, pollen counts, medication utilization, poverty rates and even public smoking laws 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. 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.
Severe Asthma, Severe Risk
Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the world. The prevalence of asthma has grown in recent decades, and there is no cure. Each year in the U.S., managing asthma consumes more than $18 billion of healthcare resources including 1.75 million emergency room visits, 456,000 hospitalizations and 3,447 asthma-related deaths.
During an asthma attack, the airways in the lung narrow due to smooth muscle constriction and inflammation, causing air passages to close. A person having an attack may experience chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and great difficulty breathing. An estimated 5-10% of the asthma population is considered to have the most severe form of the disease which does not respond well to conventional asthma treatment. People who have severe asthma are likely to have more attacks and are at greater risk of a fatal attack.
"There is still no cure for asthma," says McLin, "so that's why we need to keep up global attention and keep pushing for advances in asthma care."
When Medicine Isn't Enough
Despite real advances over the past few decades in medication therapies, many patients with severe asthma still can't get their disease under control. Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first device used in a non-drug procedure for adults with severe persistent asthma which is not well controlled with standard medications.
The procedure, developed by Boston Scientific, called bronchial thermoplasty or "BT" is an out-patient procedure done by pulmonologists using controlled energy to reduce excessive smooth muscle in the lungs, decreasing the ability of the airways to constrict and reducing the frequency of asthma attacks. "This procedure has shown long-lasting benefits for a subset of severe asthma patients," says McLin, "and it's a great new innovation to highlight on World Asthma Day, especially since now this new option is available in local treatment centers across the country."
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. AAFA provides practical information, community based services and support through a national network of chapters and support groups. AAFA develops health education, organizes state and national advocacy efforts and funds research to find better treatments and cures.
About Boston Scientific
Boston Scientific is a worldwide developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices that are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties, www.bostonscientific.com. To learn more about bronchial thermoplasty, or to find a treatment center in your area, visit www.BTforAsthma.com.