Asthma and other lung disease - contributing factors in more deaths and hospitalisations for older A

A new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could be a factor in more deaths and hospitalisations than we think.

Ms Patricia Correll of the Australian Centre of Asthma Monitoring says conventional analyses are based solely on primary diagnosis of asthma and COPD.

'What those studies overlook is the fact that asthma and COPD are frequently listed as additional conditions in deaths and hospitalisations,' she said.

The report, Asthma and COPD among older Australians, examines deaths and hospitalisations among people in Australia aged 55 years and over who had asthma or COPD as one of multiple diagnoses.

It shows that while rates of hospitalisation for asthma have declined in recent years, rates of hospitalisation for COPD remain high, particularly for older Australians.

'People in this age group with COPD are also more likely to have other smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, and those who die or are hospitalised with asthma or COPD are more likely to have respiratory infections or heart failure, Ms Correll said.

Other findings include evidence that people with asthma are more likely to have anxiety, depression and osteoporosis. 'The latter may be related to the use of inhaled corticosteroids, which can cause steroid-induced osteoporosis,' Ms Correll said.

6 September 2006

Further information: Ms Patricia Correll, AIHW, tel. 02 9515 5164.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.