Northeast Lubbock residents have a 25% higher risk of asthma hospitalization, TTHSC study finds

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:59 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2022 at 8:51 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The northeast side of Lubbock has a higher risk for asthma hospitalizations than any other part of town, according to Texas Tech Health Science Researchers.

Regardless of age, data shows northeast residents have a 25% higher risk of going to the hospital with severe asthma.

Researchers used publicly available data from the Texas Inpatient Public Use Database.

The data of asthma hospitalizations is from 1999 to 2018 and broken down by zip codes, then researchers cut the city into four regions: northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast.

Doctor Duke Appiah, along with other researchers, found a disparity of asthma hospitalizations in the northeast region.

“If you were to take, let’s say, 1000 people from a northern North East region, about eight of them will be hospitalized for severe asthma over the period of observation…compared to other regions, whereby the number is like two,” Appiah said.

Previous research showed uninsured minorities experience more asthma hospitalizations. This is true in northeast Lubbock, as the population has more uninsured minorities in this region.

However, Appiah says when age, race and insurance were compared across city limits, northeast still had a greater disparity in asthma hospitalizations.

“We can’t neglect the fact that environmental factors also influence health,” Appiah said.

The study hypothesizes this trend is caused by secondhand smoke inhalation or pollution from the industrial plants located in the northeast region.

“The particles in the air has been seen to be associated with asthma. And so we actually look at particulate matter that the downside for our study was we couldn’t have that information by the region that we broke them into all by zip code,” Appiah said.

There is literature affirming increased particulate matter increases asthma hospitalizations but measuring it can be expensive and grants to purchase sensors have failed for years.

“I always say like, Lubbock is a great place to live. And it’s nice if we can make sure everybody has an equitable enjoyment in the warmth of Lubbock,” Appiah said.

The Northwest Texas Legal Aid is hosting a zoom conference Saturday at 10 a.m. to share their findings and come up with solutions.

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