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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

British study shows the majority of asthma deaths are preventable

(Shutterstock image)

One of my colleagues (whose husband is a doctor) printed off an article for me that was titled "Two thirds of deaths from asthma are preventable, confidential inquiry finds." It's from the British Medical Journal. 

It's a little scary to think that people are dying from asthma attacks just because they aren't managing their disease. I think people don't realize that you can die from an asthma attack. It is rare, but if you or a family member die from asthma, it's a BIG deal. Most people think "I'll just take my inhaler - and I'll be fine."

This study found that 2 out of 3 deaths from asthma could have been prevented by:
  • better management including personal asthma plans for patients (asthma action plans)
  • timely reviews of asthma care
  • prescription of more appropriate drugs (too many are relying on a rescue inhaler)
The really scary part of the study says that of those who died from an asthma attack, 45% of them had not asked for medical help. The researchers said that the people who died didn't realize how sick they were until it was too late. When they looked at a group of youth ages 10 - 19, they found that 70% of children and 83% of youth died before they reached the hospital. 

The interesting thing about this study is that is showed that only 39% of the patients who died had severe asthma. The majority of people who died had mild or moderate asthma. Many of those people were only using a rescue (or reliever) inhaler to treat their asthma attack. They weren't using a daily maintenance medication.  

Asthma Doc has told us repeatedly that a rescue inhaler "will only buy you a little time." You have to find out WHY you are having asthma attacks (what is triggering or causing your asthma attacks?) And you may need a daily medication to keep the swelling down in your lungs. Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America explains that you shouldn't use your rescue/reliever inhaler more than twice a week. If you need it more often than that, your asthma is NOT controlled, and you will need a daily, maintenance medication. 

PLEASE call your pediatrician/family doctor/asthma specialist if you are not sure what to do about your asthma. And if you are relying on just a rescue/reliever inhaler, that could be a deadly mistake. 

Every day in America:
  • 44,000 people have an asthma attack.
  • 36,000 kids miss school due to asthma.
  • 27,000 adults miss work due to asthma.
  • 4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
  • 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
  • 9 people die from asthma.
My youngest two teenagers are a little better now, but when they were younger, they were hospitalized 14 times for asthma. And Son #2 almost died twice. It can happen. I never want to experience that again as long as I live. I still have flashbacks about that time. :(

Please be careful and call your doctor for a check up to make sure you or your child are taking the right medication for you or your child's asthma. 


  1. In my country deaths from asthma are caused by poverty (some people can't buy asthma medicine - most of them are reimbursed by government, but there are also medicines, which aren't). or by lack of knowledge. There are still people, who believe, that asthma is curable or that it is "imagination", so they simply don't take medicines.
    I greet You from very, very hot south Poland.

    1. That's sad. People shouldn't be dying of asthma if there are medicines out there to help.

      I know the medicines are expensive, after insurance covered their part, my daughter's new inhaler was $75 per month. Yikes!

      And yes, I know what you mean about people thinking asthma is all in my head. Actually, it's lungs - HA! They will never understand if they haven't had to struggle to breathe.

      Sometimes when we teach classes, we'll have the people in the class that don't have asthma, and we want them to see what it feels like to not be able to breathe. We have them run in place for 30 seconds, then plug their nose and place a straw in their mouth and try to breathe through the straw. You can see the look of panic on their face.

      I tell them that's what it feels like when you can't breathe. Not only can't you physically breathe, but then you panic when you can't breathe.

      I tell them that they can pull their straw out and breathe normally. With asthma, you need an inhaler and HOURS or days to get the swelling back down in your lungs.

      Sigh. They'll never understand what it's like..