"African-Americans' suboptimal response to asthma medications may contribute to poor asthma control and, therefore, an increased prevalence of asthma-related morbidity and mortality among this population," said Dr. Covar. "These patients whose asthma is not adequately controlled on usual medication doses may benefit from a higher dose or the addition of other controller medications." Researchers stress that although glucocorticoids are taken for many other conditions, including rheumatologic and gastrointestinal problems, it is premature to imply that African-Americans will need to increase medication doses to effectively treat these conditions.
Researchers found that, among patients with asthma, in addition to race as a factor that may affect glucocorticoid response, age, inhaled glucocorticoid dose, and basal T-lymphocyte activity directly correlated with in vitro sensitivity of lymphocytes to glucocorticoids. In patients without asthma, age was the only variable that remained significant, showing that even in a healthy population without disease or inflammation, response to steroids changes over time.
"Asthma continues to be a significant health concern in the United States, particularly among minority populations," said Paul A. Kvale, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "By understanding how specific populations respond to asthma medication, health-care providers can provide the most effective treatments for these groups and, ultimately, improve overall asthma management."