“Most asthma-related deaths are preventable with proper management, access to adequate medical care, housing improvements and better air quality,” according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America | Courtesy of CDC and Cade Martin

Once again, Louisville has been named one of the most challenging places to live with asthma, but it improved to seventh, from the No. 5 spot, on a national list.

The dubious honor comes from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which ranks the 100 most populated metropolitan areas based on asthma prevalence, asthma-related emergency department visits and asthma-related mortality rates.

In its report, the foundation also highlights risk factors, such as poverty, lack of health insurance, air quality, pollen count, smoke-free laws, access to asthma specialists and use of various medications.

Asthma, which often starts in childhood, is a chronic or long-term condition that intermittently inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs and leads to periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Although asthma can be life-threatening, it can be well-managed by taking medication, avoiding personal triggers of attacks and having an asthma action plan.

Poor air quality from pollution or allergens may make the condition worse, according to the NHLBI.

The chart shows the top 10 metropolitan cities that are most challenging to live with asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. | Courtesy of the AAFA

“High pollen and air quality play into Louisville’s ranking,” according to a slideshow accompanying the AAFA announcement of the 2019 Asthma Capitals.

“The city has some of the worst air quality in the country. But officials are aware of its high asthma rate, so they are taking action,” the slideshow notes. “Through a program run by AIR Louisville, they use GPS health sensors attached to inhalers to track medicine use and find ways to improve air quality.”

Asthma symptoms may happen infrequently or daily and can range from mild to severe, according to the NHLBI.

“Ten people die every day from asthma. That is 10 too many,” AAFA’s report says. “Most asthma-related deaths are preventable with proper management, access to adequate medical care, housing improvements and better air quality.”

In a past interview, Louisville allergist James L. Sublett of Family Allergy & Asthma stressed the importance of being on the right controller medications and being monitored.

“Asthma is a chronic illness that needs to be evaluated and followed,” he said.

This story has been updated to remove a typographical error; asthma can indeed be life threatening.

Darla Carter
Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.