Violence linked to worse asthma

    A study of adults with asthma in the Philadelphia region finds that they have more than twice as many hospitalizations — if they are exposed to violence in their neighborhoods.

    Living among violence is known to have a link to worse health. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania quantified how violence correlates with one illness that plagues poorer neighborhoods: asthma.

    People with asthma who also have been exposed to violence in their community had more than twice as many emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma than people who were not exposed to violence.

    Apter: It’s a warning sign. A wake up call that neighborhoods are very important.

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    Andrea Apter at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and her colleagues conducted the study, which was done in the Philadelphia area.

    Apter: If you live in a neighborhood where there is violence it could cause significant psychological stress and we know that stress in some way affects health, although how exactly that’s the case is not worked out.

    Apter says it’s not clear whether violence is causing the hospital visits, such as through stress, or is a marker of other neighborhood hazards — such as a lack of pharmacies or increased pollution. Apter says she’d like to find interventions that could reduce neighborhoods’ negative impacts. Her study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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