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HEALTH | Report Highlights the Burden of Asthma on Hispanics

American Lung Association Issues

New Report to Highlight the Burden of Asthma on Hispanics

The American Lung Association released a new report today, Luchando por el Aire: The Burden of Asthma on Hispanics, which provides an overview of research on the complex biological, environmental, political and cultural factors that increase asthma’s burden on the Hispanic/Latino population in this country.  This report is part of the Lung Association’s Disparities in Lung Health Series.

The Spanish title is the best translation of “fighting for air,” an experience that is all too common among Hispanics with asthma.  Compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics with asthma are less likely to be in the care of a regular doctor or clinic; less likely to be prescribed appropriate medicines; less likely to have access to specialized care; and more likely to end up being treated in the emergency department or hospitalized in a crisis.

According to Norman H. Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association, “Some Hispanics face social and economic disadvantages that leave them less able to implement the necessary steps to manage their asthma.  Hispanics are the nation’s fastest growing ethnic group, and the urgency of addressing the burden of asthma grows with the population.  The Lung Association remains committed to addressing these and other health disparities in this country.”

Unfortunately, more than 25 percent of Hispanics lack a regular source of medical care, and when they get sick they are more likely to end up being treated in the emergency department or hospitalized.  Although Hispanics are only 16 percent of the U.S. population, they account for nearly one-third of people who do not have health insurance.

When it comes to managing their asthma, Hispanics also face other burdens that are due to the environment, poverty and stress.  For example, Hispanics are 165 percent more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of particulate matter pollution, and 51 percent more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone compared to non-Hispanic whites.  They are also more likely to work in low-paying agriculture, construction and service jobs that rarely provide health benefits and often expose workers to serious respiratory hazards.


Poverty and stress have been shown to affect the body’s immune response, increasing inflammation and worsening asthma.  At 22 percent, more Hispanics in this country live below the poverty level compared to the U.S. average of 12.5 percent.

According to Fernando Pineda-Reyes, CEO of CREA Results, whose organization of Promotores de Salud/Community Health Workers seeks to raise awareness and education on health issues in the Latino community, “Asthma is a frightening disease for individuals in the Hispanic community, especially when language barriers are present.  That’s why the Lung Association asthma management programs provide much-needed help to people in our community suffering from asthma.”

The American Lung Association offers Spanish-language resources to help people better manage their asthma:

  • Breathe Well, Live Well is an adult asthma self-management education program led by an American Lung Association-trained facilitator that is offered in a small group setting.  The workshop teaches adults the necessary asthma-related knowledge and self-management skills to take control of their asthma.  The program is available in English and Spanish and some Spanish-language materials are also available for download.
  • The American Lung Association’s Open Airways For Schools is a school-based curriculum available in Spanish that educates and empowers children through a fun and interactive approach to asthma self-management.  It teaches children with asthma ages 8-11 how to detect the warning signs of asthma, avoid their triggers and make decisions about their health.
  • The Lung HelpLine, 1-800-LUNG-USA, offers one-on-one support from Spanish-speaking registered nurses and respiratory therapists.  Individuals have the opportunity to seek guidance on asthma control and find out how to participate in Lung Association asthma programs, Breathe Well, Live Well and Open Airways For Schools.

In addition to expanding the Lung Association’s capability to provide its programs and services to the Hispanic community, there are also several other action steps to help reduce the burden of asthma and help everyone breathe easier.  These steps are details in the full report, and include making sure that federal agencies continue to aggressively implement the Affordable Care Act; that the CDC continue to fund the National Asthma Control Program; and for public and private funders to increase the investment in disparities-related research.

To download a copy of the report, visit:

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit

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