184944 Heroin-associated asthma symptoms among young non-injecting heroin users (NIHU) in Chicago

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 5:06 PM

Dita Broz, MPH , Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Lawrence J. Ouellet, PhD , Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Objective: Determine prevalence of self-reported, heroin-associated asthma symptoms (HAS) among young NIHU and examine characteristics related to such events.

Methods: NIHU 16-30 years old were recruited in Chicago through street outreach and respondent-driven sampling. Computerized self-administered interviews were collected. HAS was determined by asking participants if heroin snorting caused them chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Results: In total, 659 participants provided information regarding asthma symptoms: 50% were non-Hispanic (NH) Black, 23% NH-White, 64% male, and the median age was 25. Intranasal snorting was the most common (93%) lifetime method of heroin administration and the median duration of use was 5 years, 53% used daily, and the median frequency of use per day was 3. HAS was reported by 24% of participants; 46% were previously diagnosed with bronchial asthma and of those, 39% developed first symptoms after initiating heroin use. Controlling for age, sex and race/ethnicity, participants who reported HAS were more likely to also report fair/poor health (Odds Ratio[OR]=1.8, 95%Confidence Interval[CI]=1.16-2.74), attacks of wheezing/whistling in the chest (OR=6.7, 95%CI=4.47-9.97), emergency room visit(s) (OR=2.36, 95%CI=1.59-3.51), and hospital admission(s) for reasons other than drug treatment/detox (OR=1.85, 95%CI=1.14-2.98). Although frequency of heroin and other substance use (e.g., cocaine/crack) did not increase the probability of HAS, using any drugs nearly every day in the past 6 months did (OR=2.25, 95%CI=1.16-4.37).

Conclusions: A substantial proportion of young NIHU reported HAS, with many experiencing first asthma symptoms after initiating heroin use. Future research should investigate heroin snorting as a possible trigger of asthma symptoms.

Learning Objectives:
1. Determine prevalence of heroin-associated asthma symptoms among young non-injecting heroin users. 2. Examine socio-demographic characteristics, drug use behaviors and contact with the health care system by history of heroin-associated asthma symptoms. 3. Assess a potential timeline between developing first asthma symptoms and first heroin use.

Keywords: Drug Use, Asthma

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a masters of public health degree in epidemiology and currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. For the past 4 years, I have been a project director for the Non-injecting Heroin Use, HIV and Transitions to Injection (NIHU-HIT) study and since its inception, I have been involved in the development and implementation of the study protocols, day-to-day management of participant recruitment, enrollment, follow-up, data collection, and analyses. I presented preliminary results at professional conferences, including APHA, and am I currently preparing manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications as part of my Ph.D. dissertation work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.