Hispanic adults with asthma are much more likely to have severe asthma attacks during COVID-19 infections than black and white asthma patients, a new study finds.
Researchers at a medical center in Chicago evaluated 174 asthma patients who contracted Covid in spring 2020.
The Hispanic asthma patients were three times more likely to have severe asthma attacks than white patients and 4.5 times more likely to have attacks than black patients.
Asthma symptoms were also longer-lasting for Hispanic patients, with these patients experiencing Covid-induced asthma attacks for about twice as long as white and black patients.
The study shows another way that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color in the U.S., though the team says more research is needed to back up the findings.
Hispanic asthma patients are more susceptible to severe Covid symptoms than black and white patients, a new study finds. Pictured: A nurse takes an asthma inhaler between performing Covid tests, Barcelona, Spain, June 2020
Throughout the pandemic, minority populations in the U.S. have been particularly vulnerable to Covid.
Additionally, Native Americans were more than three times as likely to die of Covid, compared to white Americans.
People of color tend to be more likely to work in essential jobs, live in multi-generational households, take public transportation and face other conditions that increase their risk of catching the coronavirus.
What’s more, these communities may be more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions that increase their risk of severe Covid disease.
Minority populations in the U.S. are also more likely to suffer from asthma and allergies.
In 2018, black Americans were 40 times more likely to have asthma than white Americans – and almost three times more likely to die from an asthma-related cause – according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Hispanic Americans are also more likely to suffer from asthma. According to HHS, Hispanics are twice as likely to visit the emergency room due to asthma compared to white Americans.
Like other chronic lung diseases, moderate or severe asthma can increase an individual’s risk of severe Covid symptoms.
A new study reveals how, among patients suffering from both asthma and Covid, Hispanic Americans are more severely impacted.
Clinicians at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied Covid symptoms in asthma patients who were infected with the virus.
The study is set to be presented this week at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.
Its findings have yet to be published in a preprint or a scientific paper.
The researchers examined 174 asthma patients who were infected with Covid between February and April 2020.
Hispanic patients had ‘significantly higher odds of developing asthma flares’ compared to white and black patients, the researchers found
They followed the patients for months, keeping track of long-term respiratory symptoms.
Among the 174 patients, 23 were Hispanic, 44 were black, and 111 were white.
‘What we found is that Latinos had significantly higher odds of developing asthma flares, and the length of time of their asthma exacerbations was longer compared to non-Latinos,’ said Dr Katharine Foster, the study’s lead author, in a statement.
The Hispanic patients were 2.9 times more likely to develop severe asthma attacks – or asthma exacerbations than white patients.
They were also 4.6 times more likely to develop asthma attacks than black patients.
In addition, the Hispanic patients tended to have severe asthma symptoms for a longer period of time.
Hispanic patients experienced these symptoms for an average of 3.2 weeks, compared to 1.6 weeks for white patients and 1.4 weeks for black patients.
‘Despite the differences in symptoms we found in the study participants, we didn’t see a difference in the likelihood of starting steroids for symptom relief,’ said Dr Mahboobeh Mahdavinia, co-author of the study.
The researchers also didn’t see significant differences between black, white, and Hispanic patients’ likelihoods of starting other types of asthma therapies.
‘All the groups sought a similar number of asthma-related provider visits, including in clinic, the emergency departments, or via telehealth,’ Mahdavinia said.
More research is needed to further investigate how and why Hispanic patients may be at particularly high risk of severe respiratory symptoms, the researchers said.
Respiratory viruses often trigger asthma attacks, but the same viruses can impact different patients in different ways.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists asthma as a potential risk factor for Covid, there is currently little research to back up this connection.
The disease’s ability to impact asthma patients long-term is also unknown, and may be a subject of further study.
In addition, more research is needed because the Chicago study had a fairly small sample size and may not reflect symptom patterns in other parts of the country.