Global Asthma Mortality Rate Reductions at Standstill

Illustration of a health lung with bronchi
Illustration of a health lung with bronchi
International trends in asthma mortality are useful for assessing the effect of treatment strategies on the burden of asthma.

Decreasing international asthma mortality trends appear to have stalled during the past decade, possibly as a result of poor implementation of established management strategies according to a study published in The Lancet.

Researchers identified 46 countries that had 10 years of complete asthma mortality data for individuals aged 5 to 34 years in the World Health Organization Mortality Database. The locally weighted scatter plot smoother (LOESS) curve estimate was 0.44 deaths per 100,000 people in 1993 (90% CI, 0.39-0.48) and 0.19 deaths per 100,000 people in 2006 (90% CI, 0.18-0.21), representing a 57% reduction in mortality. Since 2006, the LOESS curve has remained at 0.19 per 100,000 through 2012 (90% CI, 0.16-0.21) with no further global reduction in asthma mortality rates.

While some countries experienced a continued reduction in asthma mortality, the global rate remained the same in 2012 as in 2006. One factor contributing to the plateau is an increase in asthma prevalence, specifically severe asthma.

The investigators concluded that better implementation of strategies for managing and treating asthma is needed to further reduce global asthma mortality rates.

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Disclosures: Dr Beasley reports financial support from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Cephalon, Genentech, and Sanofi-Aventis.


Ebmeier S, Thayabaran D, Braithwaite I, Bénamara C, Weatherall M, Beasley R.  Trends in international asthma mortality: analysis of data from the WHO mortality database from 46 countries (1992-2012) [published online August 7, 2017]. Lancet. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31448-4