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Kitsap County African-American and Asian-American COPDers Are Missed in Lung Patient Meetings

What role does ethnic ancestry (race) have to do with COPD? Yesterday’s information packed Harrison Medical Center/Better Breather’s support group meeting brought home the work ethic of the Norwegian immigrants I knew growing up and remember thinking I am glad to be born Norwegian American of immigrant parents.

That said, I thought of other races/ethnic immigrants to this country and their same work ethic and realized that I don’t recall seeing a person of obvious racial differences at any COPD meeting I’ve attended in the years I’ve had COPD. (1997)
We all share the same American pride of heritage but none of it matters with COPD or any chronic disease. Under the skin, we all look the same: brain, heart, lungs, liver and so on. Disease generally does not know race, religion, gender or age and does not stop at borders. We are sisters and brothers under the skin – our lungs are damaged, not our varied cultures and pride in them.
We have damaged lungs – permanently damaged yes, but we can get educated how to help ourselves live a quality life – all of us.
Yesterday’s Better Breather’s meeting was a ‘don’t miss!’ for lung disease patients and I would like to know why non-Caucasians were missing?

I feel lucky in my heritage, as I know everyone feels about his or her heritage and culture. We share lung disease and should be equally educated as patients. As a Norwegian/American lung patient, what can I do to get you to these incredible meetings?

Speaker Aaron spoke to how he, as an exercise induced asthmatic child got over it in two years -I’ll tell you in the story I’m writing and posting soon, but you should have been there.

Take care of yourself, get educated because Harrison is getting hot to educate patients. Hope to see you at next month’s meeting.
Following is the African-American COPD story in Chest in 2009 and the Asian-American COPD story 2011.

African-Americans with COPD Use Fewer Health Services
New research shows that African-Americans (AA) with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) use fewer health services than Caucasians with the condition. Researchers from the University of Maryland compared health services utilization and cost outcomes in 4,723 AA patients and 4,021 Caucasians with COPD, asthma, or both. After controlling for age, gender, cohort allocation, and comorbidities, results showed that AA adults with COPD, asthma, or coexisting asthma and COPD used fewer medical services and accounted for lower medical costs than Caucasians.

The authors speculate that the differences in utilization and medical costs may provide an explanation for the racial disparities in outcomes of patients with COPD and asthma. The article is published in the August issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Ethnicity and Risk of Hospitalization for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Tran HN, Siu S, Iribarren C, Udaltsova N, Klatsky AL.
Departments of Medicine (H.N.T.) and Pulmonary Medicine (S.S.), and the Division of Research (C.I., N.U., A.L.K.), Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, California.

To identify ethnic differences for risk of hospitalization for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

We undertook a cohort study with 126,019 participants: 55% whites, 27% blacks, 11% Asians, and 4% Hispanics. To estimate asthma and COPD risk, we used Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, education, smoking, and alcohol intake. End points were hospitalizations for asthma or COPD.

Compared with whites, relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for asthma among other groups were: blacks, 1.7 (1.4-2.0); Hispanics, 0.9 (0.6-1.4); and Asians, 1.6 (1.2-2.1). Among Asians, increased risk was concentrated in Filipino men and women and South Asian men. For COPD, whites were at highest risk; RR of blacks was 0.9 (0.7-1.0); Hispanics, 0.6 (0.3- 0.9); and Asians, 0.4 (0.3-0.6). COPD risk among Asians was lowest in Chinese with RR of 0.3 (0.1-0.5).


Ethnic disparities in risk of asthma and COPD as well as between both diseases exist, especially for Asian Americans, who have high asthma risk and low COPD risk. While residual confounding for smoking or other environmental factors could be partially responsible, genetic factors in Asians may be involved in decreased COPD risk.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The bottom line is anyone with lung/pulmonary disease needs to become educated so that we can live the best life possible as long as possible. Exercise makes a difference.
More later…thanks for reading… Sharon O’Hara

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