January 12, 2011

Asthma A Growing Problem For Americans

Federal health officials said Wednesday that asthma is increasing and that one in 12 Americans now say they have the respiratory disease.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, about 8.2 percent of Americans had asthma in a 2009 national survey of about 40,000 individuals.  That means about 25 million people have asthma.

The rate had been sticking to a little under 8 percent for the previous four years.

Better diagnostic efforts could be part of the reason for the increase.  Dr. Lara Akinbami, a medical officer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, said in a statement that they are thought as a main reason for an increase in asthma seen from 1980 through 1995.

Asthma is a chronic disease involving attacks of impaired breathing and symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and chest pain.  Health officials estimate over 3,000 U.S. asthma deaths occur each year.

However, treatments seem to be improving, with 52 percent of asthma patients in the 2009 survey saying that they suffered in an attack in the previous year, down from 60 percent at the beginning of the decade.

Asthma is more common among women than men.  According to the CDC, it is also more common in children, blacks, Puerto Ricans, people living below the poverty level, and people in the Northeast and Midwest.

The CDC reported that asthma killed 3,447 people in 2007 and 3,395 people in 2008.  It caused 1.75 million emergency room visits the same year, along with 14 million private doctor offices visits and 1.4 million hospital outpatient department visits.


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