Asthma Facts and Figures

United States of America

How Common Is Asthma in USA?

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 14 people have asthma.
  • About 24 million Americans have asthma. This is 7.4 percent of adults and 8.6 percent of children. Asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s in all age, sex and racial groups.
  • Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children. It is also the top reason for missed school days.
  • Asthma is more common in adult women than adult men.
  • Asthma is more common in children than adults and more common in boys than girls.
  • Almost 6.3 million people with asthma are under the age of 18.
  • In 2011, the asthma rate for African-Americans was 47 percent higher than for whites.

How Many People Get Sick from Asthma?

  • Asthma causes almost 2 million emergency room visits each year.
  • Each year, asthma causes more than 14 million doctor visits and 439,000 hospital stays.
  • The average length of asthma hospital stays is 3.6 days.
  • Asthma is the third leading cause of hospital stays in children.
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized from asthma.

How Many People Die from Asthma?

  • Each day, ten Americans die from asthma, and at least 3,630 die from asthma each year. Many of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.
  • Women make up almost 65 percent of asthma deaths. African-American women have the highest death rate from asthma.
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma.

What Are the Costs of Asthma?

  • The annual cost of asthma is about $56 billion.
  • Direct costs were nearly $50.1 billion. Hospital stays were the largest part of these costs. Indirect costs, like lost pay from illness or death, were $5.9 billion.
  • In 2008, more than half of children and one-third of adults missed school or work due to their asthma.
  • For adults, asthma is one of the leading causes of missing work and getting less done. Adults miss more than 14 million days of work each year. This is approximately $2 billion of asthma’s indirect costs.
  • Among children ages 5 to 17, asthma is one of the top causes of missed school days. In 2013, it accounted for more than 13.8 million missed school days.

Do Men or Women Have Higher Rates of Asthma?

  • In 2011, 8 million women had an asthma attack. Only 5.1 million men had asthma attacks.
  • Women have almost 65% of asthma deaths overall.

What Age Group Has a Higher Rate of Asthma?

  • An average of 1 out of every 10 school-aged children have asthma.
  • Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospital stays in children.
  • In 2009, 1 in 5 children with asthma went to the emergency room.
  • Boys are more likely to have asthma than girls. But women are more likely to have asthma than men.
  • Adults are nearly seven times more likely than children to die from asthma.
  • The asthma death rate was highest for people 65 or older.

United Kingdom

Key facts for journalists

  • 5.4 million People in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
  • Asthma prevalence is thought to have plateaued since the late 1990s; although the UK still has some of the highest rates in Europe and on average 3 people a day die from asthma.
  • In 2014 (the most recent data available) 1216 people died from asthma.
  • The NHS spends around 1 billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma.

Asthma across the UK

  • In Northern Ireland 182,000 people (1 in 10) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This includes 36,000 children and 146,000 adults.
  • In Scotland, 368,000 people (1 in 14) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This includes 72,000 children and 296,000 adults.
  • In Wales 314,000 people (1 in 10) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This consists of 59,000 children and 256,000 adults.
  • In England, 4,500,000 people (1 in 11) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This consists of 932,000 children and 3,600,000 adults.

Children, parents and asthma

  • One in 11 children has asthma and it is the most common long-term medical condition.
  • On average there are three children with asthma in every classroom in the UK.
  • The UK has among the highest prevalence rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide.
  • Asthma attacks hospitalise someone every 8 minutes; 185 people are admitted to hospital because of asthma attacks every day in the UK (a child is admitted to hospital every 20 minutes because of an asthma attack).

New Zealand

  • Asthma and respiratory diseases are the two leading causes of sickness and death
  • 1 in 7 children have asthma
  • 1 in 6 have respiratory disease
  • 3rd common cause of death
  • Respiratory cost to the country each year is $5.5bn
  • Over 460,000 people take medication for asthma − one in nine adults and one in seven children
  • Large numbers of children (3,730 or 430.9 per 100,000 in 2013) are still being admitted to hospital with asthma, and some of these will have had a potentially life-threatening attack
  • By far the highest number of people being admitted to hospital with asthma are Māori, Pacific peoples and people living in the most deprived areas: Māori are 2.9 times and Pacific peoples 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalised than Europeans or other New Zealanders, and people living in the most deprived areas are 3.2 times more likely to be hospitalised than those in the least deprived areas
  • The cost of asthma to the nation is over $800 million per year (Telfar Barnard et al., 2015).


  • In total, 419 asthma-related deaths were recorded in Australia in 2014, comprising 277 females and 142 males. The overall figure was up slightly from 389 deaths in 2013 probably in line with the ageing population, according to the National Asthma Council Australia.
  • The data shows that middle-aged women (aged 55-74) were twice as likely to die from asthma compared to their male counterparts, while older women aged over 75 were almost three times more likely to die from asthma then men of the same age. This is despite the prevalence of asthma sitting at around 9% for men and 13% for women.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that:

  • 10% of the Australian population has asthma
  • Slightly more women than men have asthma
  • Asthma was more common in males than females aged 0-14, but more common in females aged 15 and over
  • The prevalence of asthma was significantly higher in people living in inner regional areas compared with those living in major cities
  • Asthma was more common among people living in socioeconomically disadvantaged localities compared with those in the least disadvantaged localities.
  • Deaths attributed to asthma have remained stable since 2003-below 2.0 per 100,000 population. An estimated 389 people died from asthma in 2013.
  • Asthma expenditure was $655 million in the 2008-09 financial year (0.9% of the total allocated health expenditure), with the following breakdown:
  • 59% prescription pharmaceuticals
  • 30% out-of-hospital-costs
  • 20% admitted patient costs.


  • Ireland has the largest fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the world (470,000 cases in a population of 4,581,269; that is 9.86% of almost 1 in 10)
  • 7.1% of population aged 18 and above have asthma
  • 18.9% of 13-15 year olds have asthma
  • 38.5% of 13-15 year olds reported wheezing
  • More than one person a week dies from asthma
  • More than 5,000 asthma admissions to hospital every year
  • At least 20,000 asthma related emergency operation attendances annually
  • 29% of asthma patients miss school or work.

Global Asthma Facts and Statistics

  • At least 300 million people currently suffer from asthma
  • It is the most chronic disease among children
  • Medication and avoiding asthma triggers can reduce its severity
  • More than 1 person a week dies from asthma
  • Asthma is not just a public health problem for high income countries. It occurs in all countries regardless of level of development.
  • Over 80% of asthma deaths occur in low and lower-middle income countries.For effective control, it is essential to make medications affordable and available, especially for low-income families
  • Asthma is under-diagnosed and under-treated, creating a substantive burden to individuals and families and possibly restricting individuals’ activities over a lifetime.
  • Asthma deaths will increase in the next 10 years if urgent action is not taken. Asthma cannot be cured, but proper diagnosis, treatment and patient education can result in good asthma control and management.
  • Symptoms may occur several times in a day or week in affected individuals. For some people the symptoms become worse during physical activity or at night. Failure to recognize and avoid triggers that lead to a tightened airway can be life threatening and may result in an asthma attack, respiratory distress and even death.
  • Through appropriate treatment such as using inhaled corticosteroids to ease bronchial inflammation, the number of asthma-related deaths can be reduced.
  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. But it can be controlled through different prevention and treatment plans according to individual symptoms.
  • The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are exposure to indoor allergens such as house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture; pollution and pet dander; outdoor allergens such as pollens and moulds; tobacco smoke and chemical irritants in the workplace.
  • Asthma triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise.
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