You’ve just completed some routine yard work while listening to your IPod. But you’re not able to sit back and enjoy your accomplishment because despite the 80 degree heat, your lungs suddenly feel like they’re taking in deep breaths of cold, cold air. Breathing is becoming harder and harder, and the little air your lungs can squeeze in or out is accompanied by such a sharp wheeze it almost sounds like you’re whistling.
This, my friend, is asthma. Each day 11 people die of asthma in the United States. One-quarter of all all emergency room visits are asthma-related. In the past 30 years, the asthma death rate has increased by 50%. Alarmed by these statistics, am Pejham (a doctor and researcher) and Salim Madjd created a new iPhone app called AsthmaMD to help sufferers.
In addition to letting users keep a diary of attacks, their severity and the medications used, users can opt to share data anonymously with the AsthmaMD service. The data will be shared with doctors and researchers in hopes that it will allow them to better understand the disease, and may even help people know when an attack is more likely.
As Madjd explains “since we have precise location of patient and the time of their asthma activity we can correlate that against local pollutant count, adverse weather changes, and different type of pollutants.” Or if one section of a city has a higher incident of asthma severity than the rest, it will be possible to notify parents of an asthmatic child of a potential pollutant by a nearby business.
How asthma (and its treatment) differs by age and gender or even things like the effect of exercise on asthma can be studied from data collected through AsthmaMD. Looking forward, Madjd notes “ultimately we could even send tweeter streams with zip code or geocode of areas with asthma flare-ups on real time. This app has the potential to make an impact on people’s lives unlike anything we’ve seen before and on a personal level is one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on.”
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