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Published by atc5049

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Published by: atc5049 on Dec 09, 2010
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A Growing Epidemic
Andrew Catherine9-8487-8026Final Project PaperFall 2010BBH 440
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by episodic asthmaattacks where bronchoconstriction and inflammation causes shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness (Asthma: What is It?). The severity andtriggers of the attacks vary from person to person. Some individuals mayexperience minor symptoms and discomfort, but others may also havesevere airway constriction that if untreated could cause death (The GlobalInitiative for Asthma). Currently there is no cure for asthma ,it is a chroniccondition, but only treatment for the symptoms of asthma attacks--bronchoconstriction being reduced via the now common asthma inhaler(CDC Asthma). The cause of asthma is not well understood, but evidence currentlysuggests that environmental and genetic factors are causal factors (Millerand Ho) (CDC Asthma). However, there is some understanding of whattriggers the acute asthma attacks. These triggers are different for eachperson, but often include: tobacco smoke, high levels of air pollution, mold,exercise, changing weather conditions, and stress (emotional, fatigue, etc.)(CDC Asthma). Some link between obesity and asthma (Grant, Wagner andKB). Asthma is also thought to possibly be related to better hygiene intoday’s western culture than in the past (Ramsey and Celedon).
Reason for Selection
I am interested in investigating asthma due to its significant impact inthe healthcare system in the future. With the growing incidence andprevalence of asthma, better understanding the epidemiology (whatsegments of the population are more likely to have asthma) behind asthmaserves to better educate me as a future healthcare professional andcommunity member.I am also curious about asthma since the causal factors (environmentaland genetic) and their interactions are not well understood. The largeincrease in people with asthma has lead to many hypotheses as to what iscontributing to the increase. I hope to have a slightly better understanding of which of these hypotheses makes more sense.
Importance of Asthma
Increasing incident and prevalence rates in the US and Worldwide areplacing higher demands on the healthcare system. The disease also seemsto favor middle and lower income classes, making the monetary burden highfor those who can afford it less. In the US in 2006, people visited their doctorfor asthma over 13 million times and had 444,000 admission to the hospitalfor asthma (CDC Asthma). With such large demand placed on healthcarefacilities and personnel by asthma complications, any growth in thesenumbers has implications in financing this medical care (which is highlyimportant in today’s system).

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