Visualizing Asthma in Utah

Does where you live impact your health? A new report by the Utah Department of Health shows asthma rates in Utah vary by county.

An average of 20 Utahns are hospitalized because of asthma attacks each week.  Still, Kellie Baxter, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health’s asthma program, says the state is doing well compared to the rest of the country.

“Our adult asthma prevalence is similar to the U.S. asthma prevalence and our child is significantly lower.”

But the department says with 240,000 residents, 9% of adults and 7% of children still suffering from the condition, more needs to be done to recognize symptoms and risk factors. Baxter says that’s getting easier to do because a report released this week maps out where asthma is most common.

“You can go online and look at how your area compares to other areas of the state in emergency department rates, hospitalization rates, and asthma prevalence, which is just the number of people with asthma.”

The report shows asthma rates in most counties across the state are consistent, except in  Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties, where the hospitalization rates for adults doubled.

Jeramie Tubbs, spokeswoman for the TriCounty Health Department, says new data shows an area school district’s asthma rates are three percent higher in children as well.  So officials are sifting through information to figure out why.

“We looked at gender stats, ethnicity stats, marital status, I mean if you could extract it, we tried to pull it. One doctor documented if there was smoking in the home. We’re just looking at what can we identify that is something that we could make a priority to try and make a difference in our community.”  

Health officials in the TriCounty area aren’t the only ones who are discussing the issue. The Utah Department of Heath has created a 5-year plan consisting of 5 goals and 22 strategies to help coordinate asthma efforts across the state.