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More Americans Living with Asthma Every Year

Increase in Americans with Asthma

A new CDC Vital Signs Report shows more people are living with asthma. The number of people with asthma in the U.S. grew by 4.3 million from 2001 to 2009. About 25 million Americans (8% of the population) had asthma in 2009. More than half of all Americans with asthma had an asthma attack in 2008. Almost 200 children and about 3,300 adults died from asthma in 2007. About 1 in 9 non-Hispanic blacks of all ages and about 17% of non-Hispanic black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups.

Photo: A man using an inhailer.Asthma Costs Continue to Rise

Asthma costs grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, about a 6% increase. Asthma costs the U.S. $3,300 per person with asthma each year from 2002 to 2007 in medical expenses. About 2 in 5 (40%) uninsured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medicine and about 1 in 9 (11%) insured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medicine.

Living with Asthma

Asthma is a lifelong disease that affects the lungs. It causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. It can limit a person’s quality of life. Although asthma cannot be cured, most people with asthma can control their symptoms and prevent asthma attacks by avoiding asthma triggers and correctly using prescribed medicine, such as inhaled corticosteroids. Triggers for asthma can be found at school, work, home, outdoors, and elsewhere and can include tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and infections linked to influenza, colds, and other viruses.

Control Asthma and Prevent Attacks

Asthma can be controlled by taking prescribed medicine and avoiding the triggers that can cause an attack. Asthma attacks may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Know the warning signs of an attack and following the advice of your doctor or other medical professional. To learn more about how to control asthma, visit CDC's asthma site.

Health Education for Asthma Patients

Asthma education and services to reduce asthma triggers are often not covered by health insurers. In 2008, less than half of people with asthma reported being taught how to avoid triggers.

Read more about Americans living with asthma in the May edition of the CDC Vital Signs Report.

More Information


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  • Page last updated: May 4, 2011 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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