Asthma, the Silent Killer

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Asthma The Silent Killer: How many different ways it can Affect an Individuals life

Michael Poulos

Cornell University

Asthma: The Silent Killer


As of 2009 the percentage of Americans who have been diagnosed with asthma has grown to 8%

of the population. That percentage has increased by 1% since the year 2001. Also in 2008 53% of the

people with asthma. Another alarming fact is that the rate among black children that have been

diagnosed with asthma between 2001- 2009 has risen to around 50%. Asthma has also cost this

country billions in dollars. The CDC has stated the following (2011) “ Asthma costs in the US grew

from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007 , about a 6% increase” (para.2). The

number of people that have died from asthma has also risen. Since the 1980's the death rates caused

by asthma has increased by 50% and women account for roughly 65% of those deaths. Asthma also

the leading cause of school absences in children ages 5 to 17. According to the Asthma and Allergy

Foundation of America “It accounts for annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year (

approximately 8 days for each student with asthma)” (para. 5). When it comes to adults asthma is the

fourth leading cause of sick days from work. This has lead to fifteen million misses or unproductive

workdays each year.

Asthma is a medical condition that causes recurrent attacks of Dyspnea. A persons airways

become inflamed, wheezing also occurs due to constriction of the bronchi. This can lead to chest

tightness, coughing, wheezing, a difficulty in breathing and if the condition becomes serious it can lead

to death. During a severe asthma attack, the persons airways can close shut to the point that your

vital organs do not receive enough oxygen. Also certain systems of the human body can be severely

affected by asthma.

The first organ that is affected is the human heart. Since a person with asthma

must work extremely hard to get O2 into their lungs this adds more stress on the heart. When a

person is in having an asthma attack it also can lead to tachycardia. In other words a rapid heart rate

of 120 bpm or more may occur during an asthma attack. Another heart issue that may occur is pulsus

paradoxus, also known as a drop in systolic blood pressure during inspiration. Also researchers

at East Carolina University have found that people with asthma have a more difficult time recovering

form a heart attack. The researchers discovered that inflammation associated with asthma has a

direct affect on hearts capability to recover from an acute myocardial infarction. The next organ that is

affected from asthma is the human brain. When an asthma attack occurs confusion and extreme

drowsiness can occur. This is a result from a lack of O2 being supplied to the brain. Also in more

serious cases a person may lose consciousness due to the lack of O2 . Another affect from a lack of

oxygen to the brain that might occur is hypoxic ischemic brain injury. When hypoxic-ischemic occurs

it is a result from a lack of O2 and low blood supply. Other clinical synonyms for hypoxic-ischemic

are anoxic brain injury, anoxic encephalopathy, and anoxic brain damage. The kidney is the another

organ that is affected by asthma. When a person is having an asthma attack rhabdomyolysis might

occur. This is when a myoglobin, a protein pigment is released from a damaged muscle resulting in

release of...
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