Asthma Continues to be a Serious Public Health Problem

Asthma continues to be a serious public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

• About 23 million people, including almost 7 million children, have asthma.
* Asthma prevalence is higher among families with lower incomes.
• 12 million people report having an asthma attack in the past year.
• Asthma accounts for nearly 17 million physician office and hospital visits, 4 and nearly 2 million emergency department visits each year.
• African Americans continue to have higher rates of asthma emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths than do Caucasians:
* The rate of emergency department visits is 350% higher.
* The hospitalization rate is 240% higher.
* The asthma death rate is 200% higher.
• Approximately 2 million Hispanics in the U.S. have asthma and Puerto Ricans are disproportionately impacted:
• The rate of asthma among Puerto Ricans is 125% higher than non-Hispanic white people and 80% higher than non-Hispanic black people.
• The prevalence of asthma attacks is highest among Puerto Ricans.

Asthma in Children:

• Asthma is one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood.
• Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15.
• Asthma in children is the cause of seven million physician visits and nearly 200,000 hospitalizations.
• An average of one out of every 10 school-aged child has asthma.
• 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.

The Cost of Asthma:

• Annual expenditures for health and lost productivity due to asthma are estimated at over $20 billion, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Asthma and the Environment

Research by EPA and others has shown that:

• Dust mites, molds, cockroaches, pet dander, and secondhand smoke trigger asthma
attacks.
• Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause asthma in pre-school aged children.
• Exposure to dust mites can cause asthma.
• Ozone and particle pollution can cause asthma attacks.
* When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require adoctor’s attention.
* Ozone makes people more sensitive to asthma triggers such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold.

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