Asthma Capitals 2018: Asthma-Related Mortality

In the AAFA's Asthma Capitals 2018 ReportDownload PDF, AAFA ranked cities based on three health outcomes: asthma prevalence, asthma-related emergency department visits and asthma-related mortality rates. The outcomes were not weighted equally.


In 2015, there were 3,615 deaths due to asthma in the U.S.1 This means about 10 people per day lose their life to asthma. Older adults are at the highest risk of death. 



Risk of death by asthma increases as you age

Racial Disparity

African-Americans in the U.S. die from asthma at a higher rate than people of other races or ethnic groups. The Office of Minority Health (U.S. Department of Human Health and Services) reports:2

  • In 2015, African-American women were 20 percent more likely to have asthma than non-Hispanic whites.
  • In 2014, African-Americans were almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than the white population.
  • In 2015, African-American children had a death rate ten times that of non-Hispanic white children. 


Gender Disparity

  • In children, more boys die from asthma than girls.
  • In adults, women have a higher risk of dying from asthma than men.

If you ever feel your life or your child’s life is in danger, get emergency help right away. An Asthma Action Plan can help you know when you are in danger. It uses red, yellow, green zones for your symptoms. If you are in the red zone, it is a medical emergency. AAFA has an action plan template you can use to discuss your treatment plan with your health care provider.

Risk of Asthma Fatality by City

Shari Duncan, of Detroit, Michigan (#16 overall on Asthma Capitals) has had asthma for over three decades. All six of her children, who range in age from 17 to 40, have asthma. Shari’s mother and her two grandchildren have asthma. And many members of her extended family have asthma as well.

“A lot of people have kids that are asthmatics,” Shari said, “but they aren’t real educated about it. People need to know the truth that asthma kills. You can die from this. You must take it seriously!”

Shari says that her greatest challenge has been fear. “I’ve had nieces and nephews who died from asthma,” Shari states. “It’s scary not knowing if you or your child will come across something that will activate the asthma.”

Meredith Dodds of Akron, Ohio (#18 overall on Asthma Capitals)lost her 16-year-old son, Austin, due to a severe asthma attack

Austin was diagnosed with asthma when he was 3. That never stopped him from playing sports, including track, baseball and football. To manage his asthma, Austin used a quick-relief inhaler and a nebulizer when needed. He was very active.

But Austin’s asthma flared from exposure to pollen and poor air quality. High pollen counts and air pollution are key triggers that affect asthma in many cities like Akron.

Suddenly on Oct. 1, 2016, Austin had a massive asthma attack. He lost consciousness, and a few days later, he died.

“The night Austin passed away, it was completely unexpected and still unbelievable,” remembers his mother. “Anytime he had a flare up, we gave him a breathing treatment or had him use his inhaler. Within minutes, he found relief. This particular night, nothing worked … for some strange reason he couldn’t find relief.”

About 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma. In Meredith’s experience, “Everyone knows at least one person with asthma.” The challenge is that people “may not know what to do if they’re faced with a flareup or an emergency situation. I understood asthma was a very dangerous condition, but I never knew anyone died from asthma.”




1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, November 27). National vital statistics reports, Vol 66, No 6. Retrieved from

2. Office of Minority Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from