Asthma in the US – What’s the State of Play?
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Asthma is prevalent within more than 8% of all children in America. Read on to discover the cost of asthma to the US economy and the importance of patient engagement.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition affecting the airways of people of all ages. Although it most commonly develops within children and young adults, older men and women are also at risk. Although it’s not strictly clear what causes asthma, it is believed that genetic and environmental factors are the most likely influences. The most common symptoms among asthma sufferers in the US include shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest area.
According to Statista, around 8.1% of the entire population of the United States had asthma. That amounts to around 26 million people – one-third of the population in the UK!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes over six million children have asthma, while 11.5 million people have reported having at least one asthma attack in 2015, which is the latest data to be published by the EPA in May 2018.
Although asthma is a lung condition that can be well-regulated and controlled, it remained the primary cause of death in one-in-100,000 of the population in 2016. We’ll go into further detail on this shortly.
What is the prevalence of asthma across the United States?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collated the latest national and state statistics on the burden of asthma among children and adults. The latest data on asthma prevalence within adults is taken from 2015.
The states with the highest rates of asthma sufferers are as follows:
- Kentucky – 11.9%
- Oregon – 11.2%
- Maine – 11.2%
- Vermont – 11%
- Rhode Island – 11%
The states with the lowest rates of asthma sufferers are as follows:
- New Jersey – 7.2%
- Nebraska – 7.2%
- Florida – 7.4%
- Minnesota – 7.4%
- Texas – 7.6%
According to this infographic by the CDC, it would suggest that the most likely parts of the US to suffer from asthma are in the north-east of the country and to the west. States along the southern border of the United States tend to have the lowest rates of asthma sufferers per population.
Asthma death rates in the US
According to AsthmaMD, death rates as a consequence of asthma have risen overall by more than 50% among all genders, age groups and ethnic groups since 1980.
Every day, 11 American citizens die from asthma, while another 7,000 deaths annually have asthma as a contributing factor. Worryingly, over 4,000 of these deaths linked to asthma could be prevented with the adherence of proper treatment and medical care.
Asthma deaths in women account for almost two-thirds (65%) of all asthma-related deaths in the US. AsthmaMD also states that individuals with African-American ethnicity are three times more likely to die from asthma. African-American females are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from asthma than Caucasian females.
The cost of asthma to the US economy
The American Thoracic Society claims that asthma costs the US economy more than $80 billion a year in terms of overall medical expenses, missed work among employees and missed school days and deaths.
The EPA’s latest Asthma fact sheet also states that, in 2012, the median annual medical cost of asthma was $983 per child, up to a maximum of $1,121 in Michigan.
The American Thoracic Society’s recently published study surveyed 213,994 respondents during a six-year timeframe, identifying 10,237 asthma sufferers along the way. The report, which suggests asthma is an ‘economic burden’ is designed to help decision-makers open their eyes to the scale of asthma throughout the US.
“The cost of asthma is one of the most important measures of the burden of the disease.
“Cost studies can influence health policy decisions and help decision-makers understand the scale, seriousness and implications of asthma, so that resources can be identified to improve disease management and reduce the burden of asthma.”
Tursynbek Nurmagambetov, PhD, lead study author and health economist, CDC.
Introducing Nucala: Bringing relief to severe asthma sufferers
Such reports from the American Thoracic Society which highlight the prevalence of asthma across the US have helped force the hand of the US government to develop and release a new form of medication designed for severe asthma patients.
While most asthma sufferers can control their symptoms with prescribed medication, normally administered using an inhaler, a small group of asthma sufferers are intolerant to typical treatments.
Fortunately, a new drug called Nucala is providing instant relief to thousands of sufferers.
“Unfortunately, a certain population of severe asthmatics weren’t doing well with typical treatment.
“[This demographic is] what we call severe eosinophilic asthma patients. These are the people that are getting seen by their doctor frequently, or maybe going to the ER and maybe even hospitalized for their asthma.
“I’ve had patients who feel like their asthma is the only thing in their life that’s affecting them and what they’re able to do [taking Nucala] and going to being completely normal – playing with their kids – going to work.”
Dr. Sara May, Nebraska Medicine Allergy Specialist.
The only downside to Nucala is the cost. It’s certainly not cheap. How expensive it turns out to be depends on an individual’s medical insurance policy. According to this news story, some asthma sufferers are having to spend $60 for every monthly injection.
The importance of patient engagement in asthma research
The AAFA insists asthma research is vital in understanding the various causes of asthma in each gender, ethnic group and age group. It also enables GPs and asthma nurses to monitor and measure the effectiveness of different treatments at various stages of the asthma lifecycle.
At Safey, we are passionate about utilizing technology to provide an important medical breakthrough in asthma management for clinicians, integrating smart hardware, software and big data analytics to get under the skin of patients’ asthma symptoms.
Our smart asthma technology is designed to solve the unnecessary costs and inefficiencies relating to this chronic lung condition.
We believe asthma patients like you deserve the best tools and care in the world, allowing you to live your life without restraint. Subsequently, we’ve designed smart inhaler devices to accurately measure dosages administered by patients and relay the data back to GPs and asthma nurses via a cloud-connected asthma & COPD care hub.
Controlled asthma poses far less of an economic burden on the US economy than uncontrolled asthma. Our devices go some way to revolutionizing patient engagement and adherence to prescribed treatments.