Media Releases

Latest data shows drop in asthma deaths, but Asthma Council warns against complacency

15 Oct 2019

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals a significant decrease in asthma-related deaths in Australian women, however concern continues as the number of deaths remains high and the death toll for men stagnates.

Figures show there were 389 asthma-related deaths recorded in Australia in 2018, comprising 250 females and 139 males, which signifies a decrease from 441 in 2017, and 457 in 2016. Those aged 75 and over continue to account for nearly two-thirds of deaths (241 of 389), while deaths in children remain uncommon but can still occur – seven children lost their lives to asthma in 2018.

National Asthma Council Australia (NAC) Chief Executive, Siobhan Brophy says while adult women are consistently at the highest risk of dying from asthma, the large drop in deaths from 281 to 234 could be the result of a number of factors.

‘We believe that increased awareness around asthma risks following the epidemic thunderstorm asthma event in Melbourne in 2016 have played a huge part in this reduction, as have innovations in severe asthma treatments which are improving peoples’ lives and health outcomes,’ says Ms Brophy.

NAC spokesperson and general practitioner Dr Ian Almond says that while severe asthma affects only about 3 to 10 per cent of the 2.5 million Australians with asthma, it can be life-threatening and deeply distressing for patients and their families. [1]

‘Severe asthma, which is asthma that requires regular treatment with intensive, high-dose medication, has a huge impact on people’s health, careers, families and daily lives.

‘While it’s important that people who can benefit from new treatments are identified correctly, it’s just as important to ensure people understand what type of asthma they might have and how to properly manage their condition so they can live a life without asthma defining it,’ says Dr Almond.

As a Global Allergy and Airways Patient Platform member, NAC is proud to support a new interactive online asthma checklist developed by an international team of patients, advocacy groups and experts, which helps people define their asthma and spot the signs that they need to talk to their doctor.

‘If your asthma treatment isn’t working for you, it may be because your asthma or allergies aren’t well controlled,’ says Ms Brophy.

‘Simply speaking to your doctor or pharmacists could give you the chance to get your life back on track and breathe better.’

Follow us on Asthma Experts and Sensitive Choice Facebook and Instagram pages to find out more or visit the NAC website for how-to videos, tips and information on asthma and allergies.

More information

Full report of asthma-related deaths by age, sex and state is available here.

For evidence-based guidance and best practice on asthma, refer to National Asthma Council's Australian Asthma Handbook.

Media enquiries

For further information, or to arrange an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
Lelde McCoy, The Reputation Group
Phone: 03 9822 9463
: 0417362768
Email: [email protected]

[1] Hekking, PP., Wener, RR., Amelink, M., Zwinderman, AH., Bouvy, ML. and Bel, EH. (2015). The prevalence of severe refractory asthma. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 135(4), pp.896-902.