Allergy/Asthma Information Association

Asthma Statistics

According to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey, 8.4% of the population aged 12 or older reported that they had been diagnosed with asthma. The prevalence in teens was over 12%. In the three year period between 1998 and 2001, close to 80,000 people were admitted to hospitals for asthma, with hospitalization rates highest for young children and seniors. The number of deaths has fallen sharply since 1985. There were 299 deaths in 2001. Seven of those who died in 2001 were under 19 years of age while 185 (62%) were over 70 years of age. Source Health Reports, Vol 16, No.2, March 2005 (Statistics Canada, Catalogue 82-003)

The decline in asthma death rates, which appears to be continuing, is positive news. While no one factor can be credited, better education and awareness along with better treatments probably play a role. However there are no indications that the incidence of asthma is decreasing and it has a tremendous cost in terms of health care costs, quality of life, absenteeism at work and school, and lower productivity. Progress is being made but the battle is far from being won!

Given that the majority of asthma deaths occur in seniors, it is important for seniors themselves as well as their families and caregivers to be informed and aware of proper asthma treatment. In most provinces seniors have access to medications at low cost through government drug plans but they may need encouragement to seek preventive treatment. Many accept sub-par breathing as being “normal” since “they’ve always had it” or only want to take medication “when they need it and not on a regular basis”. Many do not realize that their asthma could be better controlled. They may be unaware of new medications and how much these new medications can improve their lives. Age is not a reason to accept poor breathing and seniors who do not use preventative medications may get little exercise and avoid pleasurable activities, to the detriment of their general health.

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 3 2006

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