New Estimates for Asthma Tracked

For Release: October 5, 2001

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs, (301) 458-4800


The latest data on the prevalence of asthma attacks or episodes, as well as data on health care utilization and mortality for 1998 appear in the October 5, 2001, issue of NCHS Health E-Stats, a series of Internet data releases on topics of current interest and importance. This new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tracking different aspects of asthma, provides information on how well the disease is being managed overall and the differential impact on various population groups.

The report presents findings on a new measurement of asthma, whether an individual with a diagnosis of asthma had an attack or episode in the past 12 months. Previous estimates did not assess whether an individual with asthma had been diagnosed by a doctor or whether he or she had an attack, and thus produced larger estimates, which included those conditions that were under control.

Key findings of the report by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics show:

  • In 1998, 10.6 million people (39 per 1,000) had experienced an asthma attack or episode in the previous 12 months. This represents about 6.8 million adults for a rate of 35 per 1,000 and 3.8 million children (53 per 1,000)
  • Asthma attack rates were highest for non-Hispanic blacks. Among adults, rates were higher among women, but for children, boys were more likely than girls to have had an asthma attack or episode in the past year
  • In 1998, there were about 14 million outpatient visits for asthma to private physician offices and outpatient departments, 2 million visits to the emergency department, and about one-half million hospitalizations. The visit rate varied significantly by race, with African Americans most likely to seek medical care for asthma in the emergency room
  • Young children (ages 4 and under) had the highest rate of hospitalization for asthma
  • In 1998, 5,438 people died from asthma, for a rate of 2.0 per 100,000 population

Data on the prevalence of asthma attacks or episodes are from the National Health Interview Survey, a household interview survey with a national sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. Estimates of health care utilization are based on data from the National Health Care Survey, a sample of visits to ambulatory medical care facilities and inpatient hospitalizations. Mortality data are based on death certificates filed in State vital statistics offices and reported to CDC through the National Vital Statistics System.

“New Asthma Estimates: Tracking Prevalence, Health Care, and Mortality” can be viewed or downloaded from the CDC Home Page.

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