Diagnosing, treating asthma in the Hispanic Community

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If you have asthma you already know how debilitating it can be when you have an attack.

And there is always the fear of an attack. But this illness affects the Latino community more than others.

58-year-old Iris Morales has been dealing with severe asthma since she was a child.

"I was out for like a month from school because my asthma was so out of control," she said.

That crippling feeling carried well into adulthood with little to no relief.

"I've been to a lot of various treatments and I haven't gotten no success," she said.

And she's not alone, Temple Health says 17-percent of Puerto Ricans suffer from asthma, that's higher than the eight to ten-percent who suffer from it in other populations.

"They do have a higher predisposition that could be genetic. But unfortunately, they also have this disparity in regards to the management of their disease," said Dr. Gustavo Fernandez Romero, thoracic surgery and medicine.

Dr. Fernandez said that is due to a couple of things: insurance, socioeconomic status, access to medical care and most importantly education.

"They have to be educated and they need to be compliant with all of their care," he said.

Dr. Fernandez regularly hosts community talks to teach about asthma and the treatment for it. That is where Morales met him and finally got something that worked for her.

"I'm glad that I was a candidate for the injections at Temple and I was blessed that I got to meet Dr. Fernandez," she said.

Morales now gets a monthly injection that she said has stopped her asthma attacks.

Dr. Fernandez said there are currently clinical trials going on at Temple for asthma.
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