New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released this week show that asthma-related deaths remain stubbornly high, especially for women aged over 75 years.
Figures commissioned by the National Asthma Council Australia show that there were 417 asthma-related deaths recorded in Australia in 2020 made up of 274 females and 143 males.
Respiratory Physician and National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, Dr Jonathan Burdon says that asthma is one of Australia’s most widespread chronic health conditions and asthma mortality rates are high by international comparison.
“It is concerning that the number of women dying from asthma is going up the last few years rather than going down and women now account for 65 per cent of all deaths from asthma in Australia.
“Asthma remains a significant cause of ill health, disability and poor quality of life in Australia and women over 75 are still the most at risk, with 72 per cent of all female asthma deaths coming from this age group.
“This is a time of life when there could be huge changes in living circumstances that could include living alone after losing a partner, changes to routine after retirement, as well as the need to start taking other medications, so the focus on asthma risk can lessen,” he says.
Dr Burdon says that while there is currently no cure for asthma, good asthma control can prevent symptoms such as wheezing and breathlessness from occurring, or progressing into a severe flare-up that could end in death.
Dr Burdon says that another group of concern included the 55 to 64 years age group, as they had jumped from 29 deaths in 2019 to 47 deaths in 2020, an increase of 18 asthma related fatalities.
“Australia has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world with 2.7 million Australians (one in 10) affected by asthma and it is crucial that people are aware of the risks.
“The National Asthma Council Australia is urging all Australians with asthma to check in with your doctor to review your Written Asthma Action Plan, make sure you are using your inhaler properly and that you know what to do during a thunderstorm or asthma emergency,” he says.