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Friday 01 September 2006

Impact of race on the severity of acute episodes of asthma and adrenergic responsiveness.

By: El-Ekiaby A, Brianas L, Skowronski ME, Coreno AJ, Galan G, Kaeberlein FJ, Seitz RE, Villaba KD, Dickey-White H, McFadden ER Jr.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2006 Sep 1;174(5):508-13

RATIONALE: African Americans acutely ill with asthma come to emergency departments more frequently and are admitted to hospital more often than whites but the reasons are unclear. Objectives: To determine whether such phenomena represent racial differences in attack severity or limited effectiveness of beta(2)-agonist therapy. METHODS AND MAIN RESULTS: We contrasted clinical features, airflow limitation, and albuterol responsiveness in adults acutely ill with asthma, 155 of whom where African American and 140 white, as they presented to eight emergency departments. Assessments were standardized across institutions using a care path, and admission and discharge decisions were made according to predetermined criteria. The degree of obstruction was measured by peak expiratory flow rates. The clinical features of both groups were similar. The African Americans, however, had lower flow rates (p = 0.002), and more of them experienced severe or potentially life threatening episodes (p < 0.001). Albuterol was equally efficacious in both populations and there were no differences in the post-treatment flow rates achieved irrespective of the initial attack intensity. There were no racial differences in admission/discharge ratios. CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that African Americans with asthma tend to present with somewhat more intense attacks than whites, but they respond equally well to routine treatment. Similarly, there were no racial disparities in hospitalizations when standard criteria are employed.

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