APRIL 01, 2007

National Asthma Screening Program Is Coming

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) is sponsoring the 11th annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. The program will help to screen people with breathing problems to determine if they have asthma and offer suggestions to help alleviate these problems. Asthma specialists will bring the free program to 300 locations across the country during National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in May. The program will also encourage those already diagnosed with asthma to talk with an allergist about the disease and how to better control symptoms.

Adult participants will complete a 20-question Life Quality Test developed by the ACAAI for the program; children under age 15 will take the Kids'Asthma Check that helps them to answer questions alone about any breathing problems. Another version of the test is available for parents of children under age 8. All the participants will also take part in a lung function test and meet with an allergist to decide if they should seek a more thorough examination and diagnosis. For a list of asthma screening locations and dates, visit the ACAAI Web site at

Atlanta, Ga, Tops Asthma Capitals

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has released its annual US Asthma Capitals ranking of the 100 most challenging places to live with asthma. The AAFA analyzed statistics from the largest metropolitan areas of the United States based on 12 factors from 3 broad categories—prevalence, risk, and medical factors. The complete list is available at www.

The top 10 Asthma Capitals are:

  1. Atlanta, Ga
  2. Philadelphia, Pa
  3. Raleigh, NC
  4. Knoxville, Tenn
  5. Harrisburg, Pa
  6. Grand Rapids, Mich
  7. Milwaukee, Wis
  8. Greensboro, NC
  9. Scranton, Pa
  10. Little Rock, Ark

Although patients with asthma in these cities may not be able to move away, they are encouraged to work with their physicians and asthma specialists to improve management of their conditions, as well as working with their communities to improve such problems as air pollution, public smoking, health insurance coverage, and more. The AAFA compiles the list of Asthma Capitals each year.

Alternate Treatments Help Chronic Asthma

New research suggests that alternate treatments may be required for patients with chronic asthma, depending on whether it is caused by allergies or lung infections. Past studies showed that certain lung infections, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, can linger and cause a patient to experience symptoms of asthma later on. Researchers have now identified a specific gene that influences how bad an M pneumoniae infection may be, which may suggest that an alternate attack might be needed for treating asthma that comes from this and other lung infections, as opposed to allergies.

Robert Doug Hardy, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, stated, "Infectious asthma might have a different mechanism than allergic asthma. Most people think asthma is asthma, but it may be multifaceted." Because the M pneumoniae bacterium is difficult to kill and often remains in the lungs after antibiotic treatment and symptoms are over, Dr. Hardy said, it is important to find improved treatments to prevent it from lingering. The findings were published in the January 2007 issue of Infection and Immunity.

Can Aspirin Help Prevent Asthma?

New research published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that adult men who were already taking daily aspirin for the prevention of heart disease also had a 22% lower risk of adult-onset asthma. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass, reviewed data from the Physician's Health Study, which started in 1982. This included data from 22,071 men between the ages of 40 and 84 who were randomly assigned to receive either a daily dose of 325 mg of aspirin or a placebo. The original aim of the study was to determine the role of aspirin in the prevention of heart disease.

The researchers noted that, during the 5-year study, 113 new cases of asthma were diagnosed in the 11,037 men who were taking aspirin, compared with 145 from the placebo group. Although researchers could not pinpoint aspirin's exact role in preventing asthma, they suggested that the medicine's anti-inflammatory effects might be a key. They did warn, however, that, for people who already have asthma, aspirin could actually be an irritant that can trigger symptoms. They said that more study is needed to determine the specifics of aspirin's potential benefits in the prevention of asthma in otherwise healthy adults.