Asthma rising in Connecticut

Asthma rates in the state are rising, and residents of the state’s five largest cities are more likely to hospitalized with the condition than anywhere else in the state.

That’s according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health report “The Burden of Asthma in Connecticut — 2012 Surveillance Report,” , released today. The report offers a comprehensive look at asthma in the state up to 2010, using information from a variety of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The Connecticut report is done every three years. This year’s report show, among other things, that the prevalence of Connecticut adults with asthma in by 17.9 percent between 2000 and 2010, and rose 7.6 percent among children between 2005 and 2010. Since 2000, asthma prevalence in the state has been higher than national prevalence rates. That’s actually true of all the New England states, said Eileen Boulay, registered nurse and asthma program manager for Connecticut DPH. The reasons for this are unknown, Boulay said.

“We have different climate conditions here,” she said. “We have older housing. We have a lot of highways going through. “It’s hard to know, because we don’t exactly know what causes asthma.”

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects millions of Americans. There is no cure, but sysmptoms can be controlled through medication and other interventions.

As of 2010, about 89,300 children and 246,100 adults in the state had asthma. In 2009 alone, there were 5,146 hospitalizations and 24,239 emergency department visits attributed to asthma. That year, the combined asthma hospitalization rate for the five largest Connecticut cities — Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury — was the 3.4 times greater than the combined asthma hospitalization rate for the rest of the state. New Haven residents had the highest asthma hospitalization rate.

That’s not particularly shocking, Boulay said, but what did surprise researchers is that, between 2005 and 2009, the asthma emergency department visit rate for Hispanic children increased 50.9 percent. “That was a very telling number,” she said. “This is a controllable disease. If you already have things in place (to manage it), you don’t end up in the ED.”

Boulay said the point of the report is to unearth statistics like these. “We then have to look at what’s not being managed and address these issues,” she said.

Amanda Cuda