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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Newsroom > What's New

America’s Epidemics Associated with Poor Asthma Control
Study finds pollutants, obesity weigh heavily on asthmatics

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.– More bad news has surfaced for the 3.1 million baby boomers and older adults with asthma, a number that is expected to double within the next 25 years. According to a study published in the June issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), boomers that are obese and exposed to traffic pollutants are more likely to have poorly controlled asthma, resulting in serious consequences.

“Obese patients aged 65-years and older are five times more likely than those of average weight to not have their asthma well controlled,” said allergist Tolly Epstein MD, lead study author and ACAAI member. “Poor asthma control can lead to a decreased quality of life and an increased risk for emergency department visits, hospitalizations and death.”

The number of baby boomer and older asthmatics in the United States will soar from the current 3.1 million to 6.2 million by the year 2037. This age population accounts for two-thirds of asthma related deaths.

“The health effect of outdoor air pollutants on asthma in baby boomers as well as young children is substantial and underappreciated,” said allergist David Bernstein MD, co-study author and ACAAI fellow. “Asthma is a serious disease that, if not treated properly, can be life threatening. Asthma patients under the care of an allergist are shown to have better outcomes with controlled symptoms.”

The study analyzed 104 patients and showed that baby boomers with asthma may be more susceptible to traffic pollutant effects. The reason for this is unclear, although it may be due to potentially impaired responses to highly reactive molecules produced in their bodies as they breathe in air.

Asthmatics can reduce their contact with environmental pollutants with these tips from ACAAI:

  • Avoid traveling and being outdoors during peakcommuting times
  • Keep windows closed, especially if your home faces a highly trafficked road
  • If you have an attached garage, don't start the car and let it run - fumes can make their way into the home even when the garage door is open
  • Avoid smoke, dirt, gases and other pollutants that can trigger asthma flare-ups

Allergists can help asthmatics develop an action plan to recognize triggers and early warning signals of an impending attack. To find out more about asthma and allergies, and to find an allergist and find relief, visit

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. For more information, visit

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