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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Wisconsin Asthma Statistics

Prevalence Asthma in Government-funded Programs
Risk Factors Mortality
Asthma Management and Quality of Life Work-related Asthma
Health Care Utilization Meeting Healthy People 2010 Asthma Goals

Prevalence

Adults

  • 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 significant.
  • 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).

Children

  • 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 2011.
  • 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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Risk Factors Associated with Asthma

  • 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 percent).
  • 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 and bedroom.

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Asthma Management and Quality of Life

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 (46.3 percent).
  • 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 (11.5 percent).

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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Health Care Utilization

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 $24.5 million.
  • 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.

Inpatient Hospitalizations

  • 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 hospitalization.
  • 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 $13 million.
  • 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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Asthma in Government-Funded Programs

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 2011.
  • 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 lowest rates.
  • 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. 2.1 percent).
  • 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 percent).
  • 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 percent).
  • 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 percent).

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Mortality

  • 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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Work-related Asthma

  • 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 percent.
  • 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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Meeting Healthy People 2010 Asthma Goals in Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin baseline rates for reducing asthma deaths (RD-1) are lower than U.S. baseline rates, although they are still higher than the HP2020 targets.
  • 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 10,000).
  • 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)

Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health (WISH) gives you information about health indicators (measures of health) in Wisconsin.

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Last Revised:  July 23, 2014