Asthma Control: Improving Quality of Life and Reducing Costs

Despite evidence that asthma death rates are leveling off and asthma hospitalization rates are declining, asthma’s impact on health, quality of life, and the economy remain substantial. Rates of severe asthma continue to disproportionately affect poor and minority populations. For example, African Americans visit emergency departments, are hospitalized, and die due to asthma at rates three times higher than rates for white Americans.

The initial onset of asthma cannot yet be prevented and asthma cannot be cured. However, asthma can be controlled, and people who have asthma still can lead quality, productive lives. Asthma can be controlled by following a medical management plan and by avoiding contact with environmental “triggers.” These environmental triggers include cockroaches, dust mites, furry pets, mold, tobacco smoke, and certain chemicals.

Asthma’s Impact on the U. S. Population

In 2003, an estimated

  • 29.8 million people had been diagnosed with asthma during their lifetime
  • 19.8 million people currently were diagnosed with asthma
  • 11 million people experienced an asthma attack in the previous year

In 2002, asthma accounted for

  • 12.7 million doctor visits
  • 1.2 million hospital outpatient visits
  • 1.9 million emergency department visits
  • 484,000 hospitalizations
  • 4,261 deaths

CDC National Center for Health Statistics

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Page last reviewed: April 24, 2009