New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released this week shows asthma-related deaths remain stubbornly high in New South Wales, especially for women aged over 75 years.
Figures commissioned by the National Asthma Council Australia show that there were 155 asthma-related deaths in NSW in 2020, including 104 females and 51 males. This is a slight decrease from 2019 when there were 162 deaths.
Those aged 75 and over accounted for over 60 per cent of all asthma-related deaths in NSW (96 of 155). Nationally there were 417 asthma-related deaths recorded in 2020, made up of 274 females and 143 males.
Respiratory Physician and National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, Dr Jonathan Burdon AM, said 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 has remained stubbornly high over the last few years rather than going down and women now account for two-thirds of all deaths from asthma in NSW,’ he said.
‘Asthma remains a significant cause of ill health, disability and poor quality of life in NSW and women aged over 75 are still the most at risk, with 67 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 losing a life 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 said.
Dr Burdon said 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.
‘Australia has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world with 2.7 million Australians (1 in 10) affected by asthma and it is crucial that people are aware of the risks.
‘The National Asthma Council Australia is urging all people in NSW 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,’ said Dr Burdon.