MIAMI, July 21 Understanding and managing asthma is not always easy, especially without adequate patient resources. That's why Puerto Rican actress, author and mother of two children with asthma, Dayanara Torres, has partnered with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Merck to launch the Asma En Espanol initiative, a new Spanish asthma education web resource to help patients learn more about asthma triggers and ways to manage the disease. Joining Dayanara Torres in this effort is Dr. Jaime Alvarez, an allergist, immunologist and asthma expert based in Miami, FL.
Asthma affects approximately 2.7 million Hispanic American patients including 500,000 Hispanic American children in the United States. The disease also may affect Puerto Ricans at a higher rate than other Hispanic groups in America. In addition, Puerto Rican children experience a higher prevalence of lifetime asthma diagnoses and recent asthma attacks compared to non-Hispanic white and black children and Mexican children.
"Asthma is quite prevalent in the Hispanic American community. Yet, there are few resources in Spanish to help patients understand their disease," said Dr. Alvarez. "The Asma En Espanol initiative provides tools that can help patients and parents of children with asthma in our community understand and manage their disease."
An important step to managing asthma is understanding the disease and what can trigger an asthma attack. Understanding what causes asthma can help patients achieve better asthma control. A recent survey* of 202 Hispanic American asthma sufferers and 203 caregivers of children with asthma conducted by AAFA and Merck as part of the Asma En Espanol initiative shows that while most Hispanic American patients (72 percent) and caregivers (77 percent) surveyed felt confident that they know how to avoid indoor asthma triggers, many of them are not able to actually identify those triggers. For instance, less than four in ten patients (37 percent) and only one third of caregivers (31 percent) surveyed recognized that pet dander is a common asthma trigger. Nearly one in three patients (32 percent) and more than four in ten caregivers (44 percent) surveyed did not realize that cigarette or cigar smoke could be a problem for asthma patients.
"There are many myths about asthma out there, and I believed some of them before speaking with my children's doctor," said Dayanara Torres. "For example, there are just as many triggers indoors as there are outdoors. I've also learned that the indoor environment may expose people to more asthma triggers than anywhere else."
The Asma En Espanol asthma education web resource offers a free downloadable guide to learn more about triggers as well as tips to avoid or minimize them in your home. Being able to identify asthma triggers can help keep asthma symptoms under control. "Asthma should not prevent a patient from enjoying daily activities," reminded Dr. Jaime Alvarez.
The Asma En Espanol survey indicates that 42 percent of adult patients surveyed admitted to altering their lives due to fear of an asthma episode, while nearly four in ten caregivers surveyed said that asthma has kept their child from going to play dates (39 percent), exercising or playing sports (38 percent) or attending after-school activities (38 percent). A majority of patients (86 percent) surveyed felt they have been unable to control their asthma, and many (47 percent) report that this is because they have been unsuccessful in avoiding situations that trigger their asthma. This may also be why nearly eight in ten surveyed patients (79 percent) feel that they don't know everything there is to know about their disease.
Language barriers and limited online resources in Spanish could be preventing some Hispanic American patients and caregivers from achieving asthma control. The Asma En Espanol survey found that nearly one third of Hispanic American patients (32 percent) would prefer to receive information about their asthma in Spanish. In addition, 44 percent of patients surveyed said that one of the reasons they do not always understand their physician is because their physician does not speak Spanish. The majority of Hispanic American patients and caregivers interviewed (60 and 54 percent, respectively) also said that they would prefer to receive medical information online.
"After looking at the survey results, we fully appreciate the importance of providing online asthma education resources to Hispanic American patients. We're excited about AsmaEnEspanol.com and its potential to raise awareness about asthma, and to ultimately help Hispanic American patients better manage their condition," said Mike Tringale, AAFA's vice-president of External Affairs.
Asthma doesn't have to stop patients from enjoying and living their lives. Patients and caregivers of children with asthma should speak with their physician about ways to manage the disease, including identifying and controlling exposure to asthma triggers. In addition, patients and caregivers can visit AsmaEnEspanol.com to learn more about asthma and its different types of triggers in Spanish.
www.AsmaEnEspanol.com is an online resource in Spanish, developed by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Merck, which provides information on asthma, including asthma triggers. Hosted on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)'s website, the resource also offers free downloadable tools to help patients and parents of children with asthma manage the disease on a daily basis, such as a list of questions to ask your doctor, an asthma record to keep track of symptoms and medications, an asthma self-management action plan and an asthma action card. www.AsmaEnEspanol.com also features more information about Dayanara Torres' personal story and experience as a mother of two children with asthma. For more information, visit www.AsmaEnEspanol.com.
About the Asma En Espanol Survey
The Asma En Espanol Survey was conducted by Kelton Research, on behalf of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Merck between April 8th and April 21st, 2010 using Random Digit Dialing of listed and unlisted numbers. The survey interviewed 202 Hispanic American adults with asthma, 18 years and older, who take a prescription asthma medication, and 203 Hispanic American mothers with a child with asthma between the ages of 4 and 15 years old, who take a prescription asthma medication.
About the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma and allergies, and the oldest asthma and allergy patient group in the world. AAFA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergic diseases through education, advocacy and research. AAFA provides practical information, community based services and support to people through a network of regional chapters, support groups and other local partners around the United States. For more information, visit www.aafa.org.
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com.
*Survey was fielded in April 2010 by Kelton Research and was funded by Merck