For Immediate Release: March 15, 2018
Vermont Department of Health
Asthma-Related Hospitalizations on the Decline in Vermont
Improved asthma self-management and control proving beneficial
BURLINGTON – Recently released data shows that the rate of asthma-related hospitalizations in Vermont has decreased more than 30 percent in the past decade. State health officials say the declining rate indicates that the focus on improving Vermonters’ self-management for keeping asthma under control is working.
More than 16 percent of Vermonters report having ever had asthma in their lifetime. In 2016, approximately 51,000 adults in Vermont – or nearly one in 10 – had current asthma. Among children, the rate of current asthma is 8 percent, or one in 12 Vermont children. Asthma is a chronic disease in which the lungs become inflamed and airways narrow, often in reaction to "triggers” such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, pollens, mold, mildew, dust and pet dander.
Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD said the trend toward fewer hospitalizations is good news. “New England has higher rates of asthma than other parts of the country, and Vermont ranks third highest in asthma incidence rates,” explained Dr. Levine. “In a state where respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death, we are meeting this challenge with a number of long-term strategies, including our 3-4-50 chronic disease initiative. This new data is evidence that, by equipping providers, schools, patients and families with the tools and information they need to support better management of asthma, health and quality of life improve.”
Dr. Levine noted that the health benefits of controlling asthma ripple beyond the personal to the economic. “By learning how to recognize and address asthma triggers while also using medications as prescribed, Vermonters are protecting themselves against bouts of uncontrolled asthma, missed days of school or work, and higher health bills. In Vermont, hospitalizations and emergency department visits for asthma exceed $8 million annually,” said Dr. Levine.
The Health Department’s Asthma Program works in partnership with lung health experts, insurers, health care providers, hospitals and schools to improve asthma control practices and education. Efforts focus on providing asthma self-management education to individuals and communities. This includes the importance of having a personal Asthma Action Plan, the proper use of spacers and inhalers, and related actions like getting an annual flu shot. For people with asthma and their families, the department also supports in-home asthma education and efforts that reduce environmental triggers, such as helping people to quit smoking and avoid tobacco smoke, reducing mold, and using clean burning stoves.
For quit smoking help and resources, visit 802Quits.org.
# # #