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Asthma in the US

Growing every year

Asthma image

Asthma is a lifelong disease that causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. It can limit a person's quality of life. While we don't know why asthma rates are rising, we do know that most people with asthma can control their symptoms and prevent asthma attacks by avoiding asthma triggers and correctly using prescribed medicines, such as inhaled corticosteroids.

The number of people diagnosed with asthma grew by 4.3 million from 2001 to 2009. From 2001 through 2009 asthma rates rose the most among black children, almost a 50% increase. Asthma was linked to 3,447 deaths (about 9 per day) in 2007. Asthma costs in the US grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, about a 6% increase. Greater access to medical care is needed for the growing number of people with asthma.

Latest Findings: Asthma is increasing every year in the US.

Too many people have asthma.

  • The number of people with asthma continues to grow. One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001.
  • More than half (53%) of people with asthma had an asthma attack in 2008. More children (57%) than adults (51%) had an attack. 185 children and 3,262 adults died from asthma in 2007.
  • About 1 in 10 children (10%) had asthma and 1 in 12 adults (8%) had asthma in 2009. Women were more likely than men and boys more likely than girls to have asthma.
  • About 1 in 9 (11%) non-Hispanic blacks of all ages and about 1 in 6 (17%) of non-Hispanic black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups.
  • The greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children (almost a 50% increase) from 2001 through 2009.

Asthma has a high cost for individuals and the nation.

  • Asthma cost the US about $3,300 per person with asthma each year from 2002 to 2007 in medical expenses, missed school and work days, and early deaths.
  • Medical expenses associated with asthma increased from $48.6 billion in 2002 to $50.1 billion in 2007. About 2 in 5 (40%) uninsured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medicines and about 1 in 9 (11%) insured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medicines.
  • More than half (59%) of children and one-third (33%) of adults who had an asthma attack missed school or work because of asthma in 2008. On average, in 2008 children missed 4 days of school and adults missed 5 days of work because of asthma.

Better asthma education is needed.

  • People with asthma can prevent asthma attacks if they are taught to use inhaled corticosteroids and other prescribed daily long-term control medicines correctly and to avoid asthma triggers. Triggers can include tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and colds and flu.
  • In 2008 less than half of people with asthma reported being taught how to avoid triggers. Almost half (48%) of adults who were taught how to avoid triggers did not follow most of this advice.
  • Doctors and patients can better manage asthma by creating a personal asthma action plan that the patient follows.
 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov