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Asthma Facts and Figures    Print Page

 

Overview

Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the air passages resulting in the temporary narrowing of the airways that transport air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Asthma symptoms can be caused  by allergens or irritants that are inhaled into the lungs, resulting in inflamed, clogged and constricted airways. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing tightness in the chest. In severe cases, asthma can be deadly.

  • There is no cure for asthma, but asthma can be managed with proper prevention and treatment.
  • Asthma has a genetic component. If only one parent has asthma, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have asthma. If both parents have asthma, it is much more likely (7 in 10) that their children will have asthma.
  • More Americans than ever before say they are suffering from asthma. It is one of this country's most common and costly diseases.

Fast Facts

Every day in America:

  • 44,000 people have an asthma attack.
  • 36,000 kids miss school due to asthma.
  • 27,000 adults miss work due to asthma.
  • 4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
  • 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
  • 9 people die from asthma.

 

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* Annual U.S. Prevalence Statistics for Chronic Diseases

 

  • Nearly 25 million Americans suffer from asthma (over 8% of adults, over 9% of children), and 60% of asthma cases are “allergic-asthma.” The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups. [1]
  • Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children. [2]
  • Asthma is more common among adult women than adult men. [3]
  • Asthma is more common among male children than female children. [4]
  • Asthma is more common among children (7 to 10%) than adults (3 to 5%).
  • Nearly 5 million asthma sufferers are under age 18. It is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting more than one child in 20. [5]
  • Asthma is slightly more prevalent among African Americans than Caucasians. [6]
  • Ethnic differences in asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality are highly correlated with poverty, urban air quality, indoor allergens, and lack of patient education and inadequate medical care.

Morbidity

  • Asthma accounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S. each year, with 1.75 million emergency room visits. [7]
  • Each year, asthma accounts for more than 10 million outpatient visits and 479,000 hospitalizations. [8]
  • The average length of stay (LOS) for asthma hospitalizations is 4.3 days. [9]
  • Nearly half (44%) of all asthma hospitalizations are for children. [10]
  • Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization children. [11]
  • Asthma is the #1 chronic cause of school absenteeism among children each year accounting for more than 13 million total missed days of school. [12]
  • Asthma accounts for more than 10 million total missed days of work for adults each year.
  • African Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized from asthma. [13]

Mortality

  • Each day 9 Americans die from asthma. There are more than 3,300 deaths due to asthma each year, many of which are avoidable with proper treatment and care. In addition, asthma is indicated as “contributing factor” for nearly 7,000 other deaths each year. [14]
  • Since 1980 asthma death rates overall have increased more than 50% among all genders, age groups and ethnic groups. The death rate for children under 19 years old has increased by nearly 80% percent since 1980. [15]
  • More females die of asthma than males, and women account for nearly 65% of asthma deaths overall. [16]
  • African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma.  African American Women have the highest asthma mortality rate of all groups, more than 2.5 times higher than Caucasian women. [17]

Social and Economic Costs

  • The annual cost of asthma is estimated to be nearly $18 billion.
  • Direct costs accounted for nearly $10 billion (hospitalizations the single largest portion of direct cost) and indirect costs of $8 billion (lost earnings due to illness or death). [18]
  • For adults, asthma is the fourth leading cause of work absenteeism and “presenteeism,” resulting in nearly 15 million missed or lost ("less productive") workdays each year (this accounts for nearly $3 billion of the "indirect costs" shown above). [19]
  • Among children ages 5 to 17, asthma is the leading cause of school absences from a chronic illness. It accounts for an annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year (approximately 8 days for each student with asthma) and more hospitalizations than any other childhood disease. It is estimated that children with asthma spend an nearly 8 million days per year restricted to bed. [20]


Disparities

ETHNIC

  • See AAFA's landmark research report on Disparities in Asthma Care published in partnership with the National Pharmaceutical Council.
  • Ethnic differences in asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality are highly correlated with poverty, urban air quality, indoor allergens, and lack of patient education and inadequate medical care.  
  • African Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized from asthma. [13]
  • African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma.  African American Women have the highest asthma mortality rate of all groups, more than 2.5 times higher than Caucasian women. [17]
  • Hispanics may have an elevated risk for exposure to air pollution since a disproportionate number live in areas failing to meet one or more national standards for air pollutants. (It is estimated that 80 percent of Hispanics live in areas that failed to meet one U.S. EPA air quality standard, compared to 65 percent African Americans and 57 percent of Whites.)[21]
  • Puerto Ricans may be at increased risk for multiple indoor and outdoor allergies compared to Whites. Puerto Rican children may be three times more likely to be allergic to cockroaches than White children.[22]
  • In 2002, over 1.7 million Hispanic Americans reported that they currently have asthma and 1.1 million experienced an asthma attack in the past year. [23]
  • Hispanics have lower rates of asthma than non-Hispanic blacks and whites. However, studies suggest that Puerto Ricans may have higher rates of asthma than other Hispanic subgroups and non-Hispanic whites, as well as higher death rates than other Hispanic subgroups and non-Hispanic whites and blacks. [24]
  • Occupational lung disease is the number one cause of work-related illness in the United States in terms of frequency, severity and preventability. Hispanics are more likely to be employed in high-risk occupations (textile, building service, construction, farming, forestry and fishing industries) than any other race or ethnic group. [25]

GENDER

  • More females die of asthma than males, and women account for nearly 65% of asthma deaths overall. [16]
  • African American women have the highest asthma mortality rate of all groups, more than 2.5 times higher than Caucasian women. [17]

AGE

  • Among children ages 5 to 17, asthma is the leading cause of school absences from a chronic illness. It accounts for an annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year (approximately 8 days for each student with asthma) and more hospitalizations than any other childhood disease. It is estimated that children with asthma spend an nearly 8 million days per year restricted to bed. [20]
  • Nearly half (44%) of all asthma hospitalizations are for children. [10]
  • Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization children. [11]
  • The death rate for children under 19 years old has increased by nearly 80% percent since 1980. [15]
  • For adults, asthma is the fourth leading cause of work absenteeism and “presenteeism,” resulting in nearly 15 million missed or lost workdays each year, resulting in a total cost of nearly $3 billion in total lost productivity. [19]
  • Senior citizens in the U.S. account for nearly 2,400 (60%) of the annual 4,000 deaths due to asthma. [14]

 


[1] “Asthma at a Glance,” National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), U.S. CDC, 1999
[2] “Chronic Conditions: A Challenge for the 21st Century,” National Academy on an Aging Society, 2000
[3] “Morbidity and Mortality Report,” National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), U.S. CDC, 2003
[4] “Morbidity and Mortality Report,” NCHS, U.S. CDC, 2003
[5] “Morbidity and Mortality Report,” NCHS, U.S. CDC, 2003
[6] “Asthma: A Concern for Minority Populations,” NIAID, NIH 2001
[7] “New Asthma Estimates: Tracking Prevalence, Health Care and Mortality,” NCHS, CDC, 2001
[8] “New Asthma Estimates: Tracking Prevalence, Health Care and Mortality,” NCHS, CDC, 2001
[9] National Hospital Discharge Survey,” NCHS, U.S. CDC, 2000
[10] “National Hospital Discharge Survey,” NCHS, U.S. CDC, 2000
[11] “Morbidity and Mortality Report,” National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), U.S. CDC, 2003
[12] “Condition of Education,” NCES, U.S. Department of Education 2001
[13] “Asthma: A Concern for Minority Populations,” NIAID, NIH 2001
[14] “New Asthma Estimates: Tracking Prevalence, Health Care and Mortality,” NCHS, CDC, 2001
[15] “New Asthma Estimates: Tracking Prevalence, Health Care and Mortality,” NCHS, CDC, 2001
[16] “New Asthma Estimates: Tracking Prevalence, Health Care and Mortality,” NCHS, CDC, 2001
[17] “Asthma: A Concern for Minority Populations,” NIAID, NIH 2001 
[18] “The Costs of Asthma,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation 1992 and 1998 Study, 2000 Update
[19] “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” Surveillance for Asthma, U.S. CDC, 2002
[20] “The Costs of Asthma,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation 1992 and 1998 Study, 2000 Update
[21] "Environmental Health Perspectives," Environmental Health and Hispanic Children, 1995 
[22]
 "Ethnicity and Skin Text Reactivity to Aeroallergens Among Asthmatic Children in Connecticut," Chest, 2004
[23] National Center for Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey, 2002
[24] "Asthma and Latino Cultures: Different Prevalence Reported Among Groups Sharing the Same Environment," American Journal of Public Health, 2000
[25] "Labor Force, Employment, and Earnings," Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2003

 
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