How many people die from asthma?

Death from asthma is uncommon. Effective management can reduce the risk. In 2017, there were 441 deaths due to asthma in Australia (0.3% of all deaths), which corresponds to a mortality rate of 1.5 per 100,000 population. The statistics presented in this section relate to deaths where asthma was listed as the underlying cause of death.

During the past 5 years, for the majority of this time the rate of mortality due to asthma has remained at 1.5 deaths per 100,000 population. The rate did reach 1.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016.

Attribution of death due to asthma is more certain among those aged 5–34, thus this age group is commonly used for examining time trends. There has been little change in the rate of mortality due to asthma in this age group over the last 10 years, with the rate ranging from 0.2 to 0.4 per 100,000 population.

For information on long-term trends, see General Record of Incidence of Mortality (GRIM) books. For more information on how deaths are registered, coded and updated, see Deaths data.

Figure 1: Death rate due to asthma, by broad age group and sex, 2008–2017

The line chart shows the trends of death due to asthma from 2008 to 2017. The mortality rate due to asthma among people aged 5–34 years (0.2 to 0.5 per 100,000 population among men, and 0.2 to 0.3 per 100,000 population among women) and among all females (1.6 to 2.1 per 100,000 population) fluctuated during last decade. However, the all ages rate for males remained stable between 2012 and 2016 at 1.2 per 100,000 population.


  1. Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
  2. Year refers to year of registration of death. Deaths registered in 2014 and earlier are based on the final version of cause of death data; deaths registered in 2015 are based on revised version; and deaths registered in 2016 and 2017 are based on preliminary version. Revised and preliminary versions are subject to further revision by the ABS.
  3. Asthma classified according to the International Classification of Disease, 10th revision (ICD-10) codes J45 and J46.

Source: AIHW analysis of AIHW National Mortality Database (Data table).

More people die from asthma in certain population groups

Certain population groups have a higher mortality rate for asthma. Asthma mortality rates are higher for people living in more remote areas and for people living in areas of lower socioeconomic status [1]. Asthma mortality rates are also higher among Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians after adjusting for differences in age structure. During the period from 2013 to 2017, the mortality rate for asthma among Indigenous Australians was 3.9 per 100,000 population, which was almost three times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians (1.5 per 100,000), based on the five jurisdictions with adequate Indigenous identification (NSW, Qld, NT, WA and SA).

The differences between these population subgroups may be due to differences in smoking rates, access to preventative health services, or other social and environmental factors. Smoking rates are higher among people living in more remote areas, among people living in areas of lower socioeconomic status, and among Indigenous Australians [2].


  1. AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare): Poulos LM, Cooper SJ, Ampon R, Reddell HK and Marks GB 2014. Mortality from asthma and COPD in Australia. Cat. no. ACM 30. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. AIHW 2018. Australia's health 2018. Australia’s health series no. 16. Cat. no. AUS 221. Canberra: AIHW.