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Number of Americans With Asthma Keeps Rising
Date:5/3/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- The number of Americans suffering from asthma continues to rise, jumping more than 12 percent between 2001 and 2009, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

That's an increase of 4.3 million people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which released the report.

About 25 million Americans have asthma "and that number, unfortunately, is rising," the CDC's Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias said during a noon press conference. "We don't know exactly why the rate is going up, but there are measures that individuals with asthma can take to control asthma symptoms."

All those new asthmatics are pushing the price tag for asthma care in the United States upwards, too -- from about $53 billion in 2002 to roughly $56 billion five years later, about a 6 percent rise.

"Asthma is a chronic disease, but it can be controlled by taking medicine and avoiding the triggers that can cause an attack," Arias noted. Even so, about 50 percent of those with asthma still have severe attacks each year, Arias said. In addition, 3,447 Americans died from asthma in 2007, she said.

This upsurge in asthma was seen across all ethnic and racial groups, the CDC said, with more cases among children (9.6 percent) than adults (7.7 percent) in 2009. The rate was particularly high among boys, with 11.3 percent having the illness.

Asthma hit black children especially hard, with an almost 50 percent increase in cases from 2001 to 2009. In fact, by 2009 a full 17 percent of black children suffered from asthma, the greatest for any racial/ethnic group, the report finds.

One asthma expert, Dr. Shirin Shafazand, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said the finding wasn't a surprise. "We see the same trends -- those who are poor, children and blacks are more at risk," she said
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