Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Because of our wet weather, more people have asthma here. And black people are at higher risk of dying from asthma, according to the CDC.

Now there's a free study that could help lower the amount of medication you take.

Darlene King has had asthma just about her entire life.

'As a child, it's really scary to not be able to catch your breath,' said King, who lives in New Orleans East.

There are many different causes of asthma. One is be genetic, meaning you inherit it. Some doctors say some types of genetic asthma should even be treated in a different way. In the future, there could be a test to see if you have those genes.

King says asthma runs in her family.

'My mom, my daughter, my son, my grandkids -- seems like they're kind of like, well it starts out with a little bit more bronchitis,' she said.

Since King started coming to LSU Health Sciences Center for treatment, she rarely needs her rescue inhaler.

'Since I've been coming to the asthma clinic, it feel like it's much, much under control with being able to get my medicine as regular as I need it, not just when I have the money to buy it,' King said.

And this is a common problem. People don't take their medications exactly as prescribed by the doctor because of cost, or because they are feeling well and think they don't need medication anymore, and that causes their asthma to get worse later.

'If you use only half the amount of medication you're supposed to, you stand a really good chance of losing control of your asthma,' explained Dr. Kyle Happel, in Pulmonary Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center.

King just joined the study. Doctors are hoping to determine how people with controlled asthma can safely lower the amount of daily medication they need.

'Sometimes if you're doing very well on those medicines, you might be able to be either dropped down to one of the two medicines, that's in those combination products, or maybe we could just decrease the dose of that combination product,' said Dr. Happel.

And for one year in the study, all of King's medicines and check ups are free.

If you are 18 or older and have controlled asthma, you may qualify for the free study.

You will be paid for your time. Call 504-568-3450 for more.

To find out more about the 18 sites doing this study across the U.S. with the American Lung Association, click here and go to the 'LASST' Study.

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