Hospital Study Says Asthma Rates Soaring Among Adult Hospital Patients

Hospitals are finding that increasing numbers of adults who are admitted to the hospital for other conditions also have asthma, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Asthma is a chronic disease that causes wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. Causes of the disease are unclear, but the number of Americans diagnosed with asthma is rising. Between 2000-05, the number of adults who were hospitalized and found to have asthma as a secondary condition increased from about 753,800 to 1,609,200--an increase of 113 percent.

During the same period, hospitalizations specifically for treatment of asthma increased only 18 percent, rising from 247,200 to 290,600.

AHRQ also found that in 2005:

  • Roughly 123,000 adult pneumonia patients also had asthma, as did 62,000 treated for congestive heart failure, 59,000 for chest pain, 54,000 for osteoarthritis, and 53,500 for depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Adults living in the Northeast were at least 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma or for another condition but also found to have asthma than did those in the West.
  • Adults from poor communities were 63 percent more likely to be hospitalized for treatment of asthma than those from wealthier communities.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Hospital Stays Related to Asthma for Adults, 2005 (www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb54.pdf). The report uses statistics from the 2005 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

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