Risk Factors and Asthma Death
Risk Factors for a Serious Asthma Episode
In the very worse case scenarios, asthma can be deadly. In Michigan, 660 people have died from asthma between 2003 and 2007. Asthma deaths are very tragic because they can be prevented with the proper treatment and education.
A person should never underestimate the severity of an asthma attack.
Even people with mild asthma are at risk for severe and even fatal
attacks. There are certain risk factors that suggest a person
with asthma needs to be particularly careful because their asthma
is not under control.
- Previous severe asthma attack
- Two or more hospital stays due to asthma or 3 or more ED visits in the past year
- Use of 2 refills of your quick relief medication per month
- Difficulty in sensing an oncoming asthma attack. You feel "surprised" by your asthma attacks
- Inner City Residence or low income levels
- Illegal Drug Use
- Comorbid conditions
- Major mental illness
No matter what your level of asthma control is, making an asthma
action plan and following it is the first step in preventing an
asthma emergency. Other steps you can take to manage an asthma
- Use a written asthma action plan
- Recognize the early indicator
of an exacerbation. View a list of warning signs for asthma.
- Adjust your medications
- Remove or withdraw allergens and irritants in the environment such as pets, cigarette smoke,
and cleaning up spill.
- Monitor your symptoms and keep your doctor informed.
Asthma Mortality in Michigan
Michigan State University in partnership with the Michigan Department of
Health & Human Services convened a panel of experts to discuss asthma
deaths in Michigan and provide recommendations. They suggested:
- Case Management for high-risk
patients (patients with an ED visit and/or a hospitalization
for asthma). This includes case management for children with
asthma where lack of adequate parental supervision is a problem
and adults with psychiatric problems.
- Pharmacy notification to
doctors for patients who repeatedly fill quick relief prescriptions
and/or do not fill inhaled corticosteroids or other controller
medication prescriptions for inhaled steroids. Also possibly
placing a limitation on the number of ß-agonist refills allowed
without a new prescription.
- Emphasis on the chronic
and potentially severe nature of asthma and the importance of
prescription and use of inhaled steroids to health care providers
in all sectors (primary and urgent care) and among people with
- Provision of more comprehensive
asthma care in the ED setting, including prescription of inhaled
steroids at discharge and a system for connecting patients with
a primary care provider for follow-up.
- Education for people with
asthma in self-management, emphasizing the importance of adhering
to inhaled steroid medication as prescribed.
- Referral to specialists
for patients with a hospitalization and/or ED visit for asthma.
- Need for health insurance
including coverage of medication costs for adults with asthma
(not a problem in children).
You can read the entire Mortality report here oem.msu.edu/AnnualReports.aspx
Find more michigan asthma death statistics
Continuing Medical Education Credits (CMEs) are available online for many asthma topics, including asthma mortality.
You should never try these home management techniques because they
have not been proven to be effective and can be very dangerous.
- Drinking large volumes of liquids
- Breathing warm, moist air
- Using over the counter products such as antihistamines or cold remedies.