Asthma Week

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Asthma Week



Welcome Message

Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, has afflicted people since ancient days.  Hippocrates coined the term “asthma,” which is Greek for “wind” or “to blow” to refer to respiratory disease some time before 375 B.C.  Over twenty-five million individuals in the United States have asthma and globally, 300 million are said to be asthmatic.  The disease spares no one—asthma may be diagnosed in infancy but can also have its onset in later life.  Both genders and all races and ethnicities can have the disease.  Asthma outcomes are not equal in all groups.  Although deaths related to asthma have decreased since the early 2000s, there are still about 3,500 deaths per year in this country.  Non-Hispanic blacks have a death rate that is 200% higher than that for Non-Hispanic whites.  Females have an asthma death rate 45% higher than men.

Multiple factors contribute to the risk for developing asthma including genetics and environmental exposures.  There is an increased prevalence in first-degree relatives of asthmatics.  Scientists have identified more than 100 “candidate” genes associated with asthma.  Environmental factors are equally important.  There is a temporal relationship between viral respiratory infections and asthma onset.  Early life exposure to allergens and pollutants as well as dietary factors and antibiotic use can increase the risk for subsequent asthma.  In utero exposures may be particularly important as the airways and immune system are still developing.

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) recognizes the importance and public health impact of the asthma epidemic.  The Society is committed to funding asthma-related research to better understand and treat the disease.  The ATS is focusing on asthma this week to educate patients and caregivers and to encourage the scientific community to accelerate innovative asthma research and move the field closer to a cure.



Gwen Skloot, MD, ATSF
Professor of Medicine
Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
RSF Assembly Chair, ATS

Tonya Winders, MBA

Tonya Winders, MBA
Allergy and Asthma Network President & Chief Executive Officer 
Member, ATS Public Advisory Roundtable



Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit patient education and advocacy organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. Our patient-centered network unites individuals, families, healthcare professionals, industry and government decision makers to improve health and quality of life for Americans with asthma and allergies. We specialize in making accurate medical information relevant and understandable to all while promoting evidence-based standards of care.