- In 2011, 11.9 percent of adults in Wisconsin had ever been
diagnosed with asthma (lifetime asthma) and 9.2
percent had current asthma. This current prevalence estimate translates
to approximately 400,000 Wisconsin adults (1 in 11 adults) affected by
asthma in 2011.
- The overall trend for both lifetime and current asthma prevalence
among Wisconsin adults has been an increase between 2002 and 2010.
- Adult females had higher lifetime and current asthma prevalence than
adult males, although the differences were not statistically
- Among Wisconsin adults, the lifetime prevalence of asthma was nearly
twice as high in non-Hispanic African Americans as in non-Hispanic
whites (data aggregated from 2004-2010).
- In 2011, 11.2 percent of children in Wisconsin had ever been
diagnosed with asthma (lifetime asthma) and 7.6 percent had current
asthma. This current prevalence estimate translates to approximately
100,000 Wisconsin children (1 in 13 children) affected by asthma in
- Prevalence among children remained steady between 2005 and 2010.
- Wisconsin boys had higher lifetime asthma prevalence than girls (12.2
percent vs. 8.8 percent in 2008-2010).
- In 2010, 12.6 percent of public middle school students and 13.6
percent of Wisconsin public high school students reported having been
diagnosed with asthma.
- In 2010, Wisconsin Non-Hispanic African American public middle and
high school students reported higher lifetime asthma prevalence than
non-Hispanic white students (25.8 percent vs. 12.0 percent).
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- In Wisconsin, obese adults had higher current asthma prevalence than
normal weight adults in 2008-2010 (12.3 vs. 8.0 percent). A
significantly higher percent of obese females reported having current
asthma (16.3 percent), compared to both normal weight (8.6) and
overweight (8.7) females. Among all obese adults, women reported
significantly higher current asthma prevalence than men (16.3 vs. 8.9
- In 2008-2010, Wisconsin adults with the least formal education
reported the highest current asthma prevalence (12.4 percent), compared
to adults with a college education (8.6 percent), although the
difference was not statistically significant.
- Adults with the lowest annual household income in 2008-2010 (less than
$15,000) reported the highest asthma prevalence (16.6 percent).
- The prevalence of current asthma was slightly higher among adults who
currently smoke (11.7 percent) than those who were “former” (9.2
percent) or “never” (8.2 percent) smokers (2008-2010 data), although
these differences were not statistically significant.
- Public middle and high school students who reported living with a
smoker also reported a slightly (but non-significantly) higher lifetime
prevalence of asthma than those who indicated that they did not live
with a smoker (14.2 vs. 12.1 percent in 2010).
- Exposure to indoor environmental triggers varied among adults and
children with current asthma (data from 2006-2010). For example, many
asthmatic adults and children reported having carpeting or rugs in their
bedroom (73.2 and 69.9 percent, respectively). Over half of adults and
children with current asthma reported allowing pets inside their home
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Wisconsin BRFSS Asthma Callback Survey (2006-2010)
- Two-thirds of adults with current asthma in Wisconsin reported having
asthma symptoms in the past 30 days; 17.5 percent of adults with current
asthma reported experiencing daily symptoms.
- Of the individuals with current asthma who reported experiencing
asthma symptoms in the last 30 days, one-fourth reported that their
asthma symptoms made it difficult to stay asleep on one or more nights
during the last 30 days.
- 54.3 percent of Wisconsin adults with current asthma reported having
asthma attacks in the past year; 65.4 percent of Wisconsin children with
current asthma reported an attack in the last year.
- One-quarter of adults with current asthma reported being unable to
carry out their usual activities because of their asthma during the last
month (23.9 percent), and approximately half of all children with asthma
reported missing one or more school days in the past year due to asthma
- Nearly half of the adults (47.4 percent) and one-third of the children
with current asthma (33.3 percent) had “not well-controlled” or “very
poorly controlled” asthma.
- Among individuals with current asthma, the prevalence of
“well-controlled” asthma was highest in children (66.7 percent) and
decreased with increasing age (44.9 percent among the oldest adults,
those 65 years of age and older).
- Among adults with current asthma, “well-controlled” asthma was
significantly more prevalent in the highest income group compared to the
lowest income group (62.0 vs. 34.0 percent, respectively).
Wisconsin BRFSS Survey (2008-2010)
- A higher percent of adults 18 to 49 years of age with current asthma had a
flu vaccine in the last year, compared to similarly aged adults without
current asthma (40.8 vs. 28.7 percent).
- Wisconsin adults with current asthma perceived their health status as fair
or poor (23.0 percent) significantly more often than adults without asthma
Wisconsin School Health Profiles (SHP) Survey (2008, 2010 and 2012)
- While three-fourths of public secondary schools have adopted a policy that
allows students to carry and administer their own asthma medications, 2012 SHP data suggest that only half of the schools have implemented the policy.
- Between 2008 and 2012, the percentage of schools that reported having an
asthma action plan on file for all students with asthma increased from 37.3
in 2008 to 61.0 percent in 2012.
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Insurance Status and Cost of Care
- From 2006 to 2010, 8.2 percent of adults with asthma did not have
health insurance coverage, whether through commercial or public plans.
- Over 6 percent of adults with asthma reported not being able to see
their primary care doctor for asthma, and approximately 10 percent of
adults with asthma could not afford asthma medications at some point in
the last year.
Hospital Emergency Department Visits
- In 2011, there were 19,584 ED visits for asthma in Wisconsin, costing over
- Between 2002 and 2011, population-based asthma ED visit rates in Wisconsin
have significantly decreased (41.8 to 36.0 visits per 10,000 population
between 2002 and 2011).
- Children aged 0-4 years had the highest asthma ED visit rate (74.2 visits
per 10,000) in 2011.
- The five counties with the highest rates of asthma ED visits per 10,000
population for 2009-2011 were Menominee (98.0), Milwaukee (80.0), Sawyer
(59.1), Kenosha (54.4), and Vilas (50.3).
- Risk-based rates (rates of asthma ED visits among persons with asthma)
have remained steady between 2005 and 2011.
- In 2011, there were a total of 4,746 hospitalizations in Wisconsin for
which asthma was the principal diagnosis, costing an average of $13,309 per
- Over the past 15 years there has been a decline in Wisconsin
population-based asthma hospitalization rates (12.0 to 8.1 hospitalizations
per 10,000 population between 1995 and 2011).
- Children aged 0-4 years had the highest asthma hospitalization rate at
19.6 per 10,000 in 2011.
- Rates were over five times higher for African Americans (31.0 per 10,000)
and over two times higher for American Indians (15.1 per 10,000) compared to
whites (5.7 per 10,000) in 2011.
- Menominee County (19.3) and Milwaukee County (18.2) experienced the
highest county-specific rates of asthma hospitalizations per 10,000
population in Wisconsin from 2009-2011.
- If the minority populations had experienced asthma hospitalization at the
same rate as non-Hispanic whites in 2011, there would have been 1,095 fewer
asthma hospitalizations that year, resulting in a savings of approximately
- Although population-based rates of asthma hospitalizations have decreased
between 2005 and 2011, rates among persons with asthma (risk-based rates)
have remained steady during this time.
- Hospitalizations and ED visits in which asthma was identified as the
primary diagnosis vary seasonally, with the highest number of visits
occurring in the fall.
- Over 10 percent of the people who were hospitalized for asthma had an
additional asthma hospitalization within the same year.
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Wisconsin Medicaid Program
- Over the three year period 2009-2011, the number of Medicaid
recipients increased. However, prevalence of persistent asthma remained
steady (approximately 3.7 percent), and less severe asthma (“universal”
asthma) decreased slightly, from 7.6 percent in 2009 to 7.3 percent in
- Between 2007 and 2011, rates of asthma ED visits in the Medicaid
population showed a general decline, from 130.2 to 111.3 visits per
10,000 Medicaid enrollees. The rate of asthma ED visits was highest for
children under 5 years of age.
- The rate of asthma hospitalizations in the Medicaid population
declined from 39.8 to 32.4 visits per 10,000 Medicaid enrollees between
2007 and 2011.
- Similar to the trend observed with asthma ED visits, African Americans
had the highest rates of asthma hospitalizations, while Asians had the
- Rates of asthma ED visits and hospitalizations in the Medicaid
population were three times greater than the rates in Wisconsin’s
general population during the same time period.
- Approximately 85 percent of Wisconsin Medicaid recipients aged 5 to 50
years old with persistent asthma filled prescriptions for appropriate
long-term control medication between 2009 and 2011.
- In 2011, 84.5 percent of persistent asthmatics received at least one
long-term control medication, and 71.7 percent received an inhaled
corticosteroid (ICS) medication.
- One-quarter (25.1 percent) of persistent asthmatics received 7 or more
prescriptions for a short-acting beta 2-agonist (SABA) medication in
2011, which is an indicator of overuse of this medication.
- According to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry, approximately 88
percent of Medicaid enrollees with persistent asthma received a flu
vaccination between 2009 and 2011.
Wisconsin Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program
- In 2012, the prevalence of asthma among all women in the WIC program was
2.1 percent and was similar between pregnant and postpartum women (2.3 vs.
2.0 percent, respectively).
- Prevalence of asthma was highest in women 35 years of age and older. By
race, African Americans had higher asthma prevalence than whites (2.8 vs.
- Factors associated with asthma including smoking tobacco, environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS), obesity and depression were associated with higher
asthma prevalence in both pregnant and postpartum women. Women with
depression had an asthma prevalence that was three times greater than women
without depression (5.2 vs. 1.9 percent, respectively).
- In 2012, the prevalence of asthma among children under 5 years in the WIC
program was 2.4 percent; African American children had an asthma prevalence
that was three times higher than that of white children (5.2 vs. 1.7
- Exposure to ETS was associated with slightly higher asthma prevalence in
children, compared to children without the exposure (2.8 vs. 2.4 percent).
- Being overweight at 24 months of age or older was associated with higher
asthma prevalence than children who were not overweight (3.8 vs. 2.3
- Ever having been breastfed was associated with lower asthma prevalence,
compared to the prevalence of children who were never breastfed (2.1 vs. 3.0
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- Between 2002 and 2011 there were approximately 65 deaths per year in
Wisconsin for which asthma was the underlying cause. Additionally, an
average of 159 deaths per year during this time period listed asthma as
a contributing cause of death.
- Over the past decade, there has been a general decline in asthma
mortality in Wisconsin from 12.6 deaths per million in 2002 to 10.3
deaths per million in 2011.
- The six year age-adjusted mortality rates from 2006-2011 showed that
African Americans were 4 times more likely to die of asthma than whites
(35.4 vs. 7.9 per million).
- Adults aged 65 years and older had the highest asthma mortality rates
in Wisconsin (2006-2011).
- The annual crude number of deaths and age-adjusted asthma mortality
rates in Wisconsin were higher among females than males (2006-2011).
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- According to the Wisconsin BRFSS Adult Asthma Callback Survey data,
the prevalence of work-related asthma (WRA) ranged from 8.2 percent
(doctor-diagnosed WRA) to 33.9 percent (asthma aggravated by current
job). Combining doctor-diagnosed and self-identified WRA resulted in an
estimate of 13.5 percent. Asthma caused or made worse by exposures in a
current or previous job resulted in a prevalence estimate of 46.6
- From 2004 to 2011, workers’ compensation was the primary payer in 321
cases out of 166,335 ED visits and 43 cases out of 41,548
hospitalizations where asthma was the principal diagnosis.
- Less than 1 percent of Wisconsin workers’ compensation claims were
identified in 2010 and 2011 as potentially asthma-related.
- These data indicate that very few asthma events can be clearly
identified as work-related through administrative data. As a result,
asthma may be potentially underestimated in these populations.
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- Wisconsin baseline rates for reducing asthma deaths (RD-1) are lower
than U.S. baseline rates, although they are still higher than the HP2020
- The majority of Wisconsin baseline rates corresponding to reducing
asthma hospitalizations and ED visits (RD-2 and RD-3) already meet the
HP 2020 targets. The one exception corresponds to children under age 5
(reducing hospitalizations for asthma), in which the Wisconsin baseline
rate (21.6 per 10,000) is greater than the HP2020 target (18.1 per
- The majority of baseline estimates related to activity limitations,
school/work missed, asthma patient education and proper asthma care
indicate that Wisconsin is doing better than the U.S. (at baseline);
however, Wisconsin has not yet met all HP2020 targets.
- Nearly 56 percent of children and 39 percent of adults with asthma
reported missing school/work days due to asthma.
- Only 35 percent of persons with asthma received written asthma
management plans from their healthcare provider.
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For more detailed asthma statistics, please see the
Burden of Asthma
in Wisconsin 2013 P-45055 (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Statistics on Health (WISH) gives you information about health
indicators (measures of health) in Wisconsin.
PDF: The free Adobe Reader®
software is needed to view and print portable document format (PDF) files.
November 20, 2013