Oklahoma City Ranks Ninth for Most Challenging Cities for Asthma

Oklahoma City Ranks Ninth for Most Challenging Cities for Asthma

AAFA’s 2021 Asthma Capitals™ Report Lists Most Challenging Cities to Live in the U.S. with Asthma; Oklahoma City takes ninth place for 2021

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recently rolled out its 2021 Asthma Capitals™ report. The report coincided with World Asthma Day, part of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. AAFA’s Asthma Capitals™ report analyzes data from the 100 largest cities in the United States to determine its ranking. Allentown, Pennsylvania takes the top spot as the most challenging place to live for asthma in the 2021 report. Oklahoma City was ranked ninth and Tulsa was 24th.

The ranking is based on three criteria: asthma prevalence, emergency department visits for asthma, and deaths due to asthma. The report also highlights risk factors including poverty, air pollution, access to specialists, pollen counts, medicine use, smoking policies, and the rate of uninsured residents in an area. AAFA previously identified existing “Asthma Belts” which continue to have a grip on the eastern half of the nation, however two western cities – Tucson, Arizona and Fresno, California, are also listed in the top 20 cities for this year’s report. The top 20 Asthma Capitals™ for 2021 are: 1. Allentown, Pennsylvania 2. Baltimore, Maryland 3. Richmond, Virginia 4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 5. New Haven, Connecticut 6. Cleveland, Ohio 7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 8. Dayton, Ohio 9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 10. Tucson, Arizona 11. Worcester, Massachusetts 12. Springfield, Massachusetts 13. Columbus, Ohio 14. Birmingham, Alabama 15. Detroit, Michigan 16. Louisville, Kentucky 17. Hartford, Connecticut 18. Boston, Massachusetts 19. Fresno, California 20. Greensboro, North Carolina. To see the complete 100-city list, visit asthmacapitals.com.

“AAFA produces the Asthma Capitals report and similar research to help improve the lives of the estimated 25 million Americans living with asthma. It’s important to highlight areas which deserve our urgent attention and collective action. This includes the pressing need to develop more programs and policies that will effectively help us reduce stark disparities in asthma based on race, gender, income and where people live,” said Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of AAFA. “This report also supports the need for climate action. Air pollution, extreme weather patterns, and natural disasters fueled by climate change continue to have a worsening impact on Americans living in certain communities. This is not only a critical area of investigation, but signals exactly where work needs to be done for those with the greatest needs.”

The report also calls attention to the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in determining the rankings. This includes some changes in health outcomes and risk factors like pollen exposure, medicine use, and emergency room visits. In 2020, fewer people experienced pollen allergies due to COVID-19 restrictions, recommendations to stay indoors, and other preventative measures like mask wearing. As a result, use of long-term asthma medicines were also down along with fewer people heading to hospital emergency rooms for asthma.

“The pandemic, economic recession, climate crisis, and racial injustice all had a significant impact on the asthma community in 2020. Despite some varying factors, asthma remains a serious public health threat with an average of 10 people dying each day. At AAFA, we reiterate that’s 10 too many. Most of these tragedies are preventable,” said Melanie Carver, chief mission officer at AAFA. “Stakeholders, policy makers, health officials, communities and individuals around the nation can use this information to join us in our mission to save lives.”

“It’s been an especially challenging year for allergies so far with high pollen and mold spore counts along with high allergy alert days,” said Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic Board-certified allergist Dr. Laura Chong. “All of these can be triggers for increases in asthma attacks too. It is important to get an evaluation to figure out your triggers and the best strategy to help optimize control of your asthma.”

The 2021 Asthma Capitals™ report is an independent research project of AAFA made possible in part by support from the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) Foundation. For the latest AAFA news and resources go to aafa.org.