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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with pulmonologist and critical care physician Dr. Komal Parikh, we discuss how asthma disparities affect Black and Brown communities.

MD Newsline:

Why do Black and Brown communities suffer more from asthma?

Dr. Komal Parikh:

“The biggest issues seem to be access to proper healthcare and socioeconomic status. African American men and women are 2 to 3 times more likely than Caucasian Americans to be hospitalized or die from asthma. And so most of the contributing factors along with socioeconomic status and access to healthcare are the imbalanced diet, rates of obesity, [and] poor access to proper nutrition.

Some minorities have less access to certain living facilities and grocery stores and markets with access to fruits and vegetables. And so more than a medical issue, this comes down to a social issue where they don’t have access to proper nutrition and exercise, which in and of themselves are risk factors for getting asthma. So it really is a vicious cycle, and it’s more of a systemic issue as to why these communities suffer more from asthma.”


MD Newsline:

Is eosinophilic asthma more severe in Black and Brown patients?

Dr. Komal Parikh:

“So studies have shown that eosinophilic asthma is more severe in African American patients. These studies compared them to Caucasian American patients. So it’s thought that one of the reasons why African Americans are more likely to die from asthma and have refractory disease is because of their increased levels of eosinophilic airway inflammation.”


MD Newsline:

How does socioeconomic status impact asthma management?

Dr. Komal Parikh:

“These patients have poor access to healthcare and poor access to the proper facilities that they need to better their health. And so it’s a vicious cycle, and the lower socioeconomic status you have, the less likelihood of having well-controlled asthma.

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Not only does it go back to making sure you don’t have the risk factors for asthma and controlling for them, but it also goes back to, can you afford inhalers, the ED visits, the clinic visits, urgent care visits, all of these things that come with asthma. It’s very, very expensive, not only per person but also as a healthcare system.”


Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

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