Native Americans suffer from high rate of asthma
Monday, March 1, 2004

American Indian and Alaska Native adults have the highest asthma rate among single-race groups, according to data released on Friday.

Based on a 2002 survey, 11.6 percent of Native Americans said they suffered from asthma. This was significantly higher than the national average of 7.5 percent, and much higher than every other single racial or ethnic group.

Only respondents of multi-racial origin reported higher asthma rates. According to the survey, 15.6 percent of people of multiple racial origin said they suffered from asthma.

An estimated 16 million adults in the U.S. suffer from asthma, a health condition characterized by difficult breathing. There is no known cause, say health experts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma prevalence, morbidity, and mortality has increased over the past 20 years. Minorities continue to suffer more than whites.

"In addition, racial/ethnic minority populations reported higher use of emergency departments (EDs) and doctors' offices for asthma treatment than whites," researchers wrote in last Friday's issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the CDC.

The data reported in the CDC study came from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Asthma rates were recorded in 19 areas, including the states with a significant Native populations. Those states were: California, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.

The survey asked respondents about their experiences with asthma. Nearly 76 percent of Native Americans with the condition said they were on some form of asthma medication, the highest of all racial and ethnic groups and higher than the national average of 69.3 percent.

Fewer Native Americans reported "emergency" doctor visits for asthma than African-Americans and Hispanics and fewer Native Americans said they went to the hospital for an "urgent" visit than African-Americans, Hispanics and those of multiple races. More Native Americans said they went for "routine" visits than others.

Native Americans were less likely than most other groups to say they experienced sleep difficulty or that their physical activity was limited by asthma. But more Native Americans said they suffered asthma attacks than other groups.

According to a 1997 study of the Billings area of the Indian Health Service, asthma took up 269 hospital days. It was one of the 25 leading causes of visits to hospitals in the area.

Get the Study:
Asthma Prevalence and Control Characteristics by Race/Ethnicity --- United States, 2002 (February 27, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Asthma, American Lunga Association -
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology -

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