Michael F. Easley
Governor

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom
Secretary

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: January 23, 2007

  Contact: Carol Schriber

New report spotlights the problem of asthma in N.C.


RALEIGH—A new report on asthma among North Carolinians has just been published by the N.C. Division of Public Health and is available on the web at www.asthma.ncdhhs.gov/ncapForProfs.htm.

The Burden of Asthma in North Carolina 2006 looks at asthma in terms of morbidity, mortality, health care use, disease management and quality of life. It includes race, gender, age and geographic information, and identifies groups in North Carolina that are at the greatest risk for being adversely affected by asthma.

The report will help decisionmakers determine where state and local asthma prevention and treatment efforts should be focused.

“Asthma is a chronic disease of tremendous public health importance here in North Carolina,” said State Health Director Leah Devlin. “It poses both a health burden and an economic burden to individuals, families and the state.”

“The North Carolina Asthma Program and its largest partner, the Asthma Alliance of North Carolina, will use the data in this report to develop a five-year plan to reduce the burden among our populations that are most affected by the disease of asthma,” Devlin said.

The Asthma Alliance is a statewide partnership of local and state government agencies, academic institutions, local asthma coalitions, non-profits and private industry working collaboratively to address asthma.

Among the findings of the report are the following:

  • In 2005 in North Carolina, 651,114 adults and 311,118 children had been diagnosed with asthma at some time in their lives, and 418,040 adults and 200,549 children reported currently living with asthma. In the United States in 2005, over 20 million adults and 9 million children had, at some time, been diagnosed with asthma.
  • In 2004 in North Carolina, there were over 10,000 hospitalizations in which asthma was listed as a primary cause.
  • Estimates put the cost of asthma in 2003 in North Carolina at over $631 million dollars, including an estimated $362 million dollars for direct costs such as physician visits, hospital stays, and medications, according to the Agency for Healthcare Quality. Indirect costs in the state, estimated at $269 million dollars, included but were not limited to lost work days, school absenteeism, loss of productivity, and lost earnings.

The Burden of Asthma report also found that some groups are disproportionately affected by asthma in North Carolina, including:

  • Male children, who have a significantly higher prevalence of asthma than female children.
  • Female adults, who are more likely to be hospitalized due to a primary cause of asthma. Women over the age of 35 are more likely than men over 35 to die due to a primary cause of asthma.
  • African Americans are more likely than whites to visit an urgent care or emergency department three or more times a year due to a primary cause of asthma. African Americans are also more likely than whites to die due to a primary cause of asthma.

For more information about asthma and the state’s asthma program, see www.asthma.ncdhhs.gov.

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Debbie Crane
Director