Continuing decreases in asthma mortality in the United States

R Michael Sly
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2004, 92 (3): 313-8

BACKGROUND: Rates of death from asthma in the United States increased after 1978 until 1988 and then tended to stabilize through 1997.

OBJECTIVE: To identify and evaluate subsequent trends in asthma mortality in the United States.

METHODS: Tabulation and graphing of data from the National Center for Health Statistics identifying asthma (International Classification of Diseases [ICD], Ninth Revision, code, 493; ICD-10 code, J45-J46) as the underlying cause of death in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia with rates of death from asthma by age, race, and sex and age-adjusted rates of death by race.

RESULTS: Rates of death from asthma in the United States increased from 0.8 per 100,000 general population in 1977 and 1978 to 2.0 in 1989 and 2.1 in 1994 through 1996 but have decreased to 1.6 in 2000, a decrease accounted for only partly by implementation in 1999 of the ICD-10. Rates have been higher for women than men but have decreased for both. Age-adjusted rates of death for asthma have been much higher for blacks than whites.

CONCLUSION: Asthma mortality has stabilized since 1988 and decreased since 1998. Improved management and recent decreases in prevalence are the most likely explanations for these recent trends.

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