For the most up to date information on COVID-19 please visit the Department of Health website. Learn more about how the AIHW is assisting the COVID-19 response and how our other work is affected. Our Covid-19 related resources page includes a list of some existing resources which may be useful when researching issues related to COVID-19.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Asthma. Cat. no. ACM 33. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 24 November 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Asthma. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma
Asthma. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 25 August 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Asthma [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020 [cited 2020 Nov. 24]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020, Asthma, viewed 24 November 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma
Get citations as an Endnote file:
PDF | 1.1Mb
Asthma is a common chronic condition that affects the airways (the breathing passage that carries air into our lungs). People with asthma experience episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways.
Around 1 in 4 aged 15 and over with asthma had a written asthma action plan, based on 2017–18 self-reported survey data
389 deaths were due to asthma in 2018
1 in 9 Australians had asthma in 2017–18 that had been diagnosed by a doctor or nurse based on self-reported survey data
In 2017–18, females aged 15 and over were 2.3 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma than males
Death from asthma is uncommon and effective management can reduce the risk even further. In 2018, there were 389 deaths due to asthma in Australia (0.2% of all deaths), which corresponds to a mortality rate of 1.3 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 decade, the overall trend of death due to asthma has decreased from 1.7 deaths per 100,000 population in 2009 and 2010, to 1.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2018.
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.
The line chart shows the trends of death due to asthma from 2009 to 2018. During the past decade, the overall trend of death due to asthma has decreased from 1.7 deaths per 100,000 population in 2009 and 2010, to 1.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2018.
Certain population groups have a higher mortality rate due to asthma. Asthma mortality rates increased with increasing remoteness of residence. Mortality rates due to asthma were higher among people residing in Outer regional (1.6 per 100,000 population) and Remote and very remote areas (1.9 per 100,000 population) than in Major cities and Inner Regional areas (1.2 and 1.4 per 100,000 population, respectively). Meanwhile, the mortality rate was higher among people residing in the lowest socioeconomic area (2.4 per 100,000 population) compared to those residing in the highest socioeconomic area (1.3 per 100,000 population) (AIHW: Poulos et al. 2014).
In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher asthma mortality rates than non-Indigenous Australians. In the 5-year period from 2014–2018, 63 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died from asthma, with a mortality rate of 1.8 per 100,000 population (based on five jurisdictions with adequate Indigenous identification (NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT)). After adjusting for differences in age structure, the mortality rate of asthma among Indigenous Australians was 2.2 times as high as non-Indigenous Australians (3.4 compared with 1.5 per 100,000 population).
The mortality rate differences between these population subgroups may be due to differences in smoking rates, access to 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 (AIHW 2018).
Burden of disease measures the gap between the ideal of living to old age in good health, and the current situation where healthy life is shortened or lost by illness, injury, disability and death (AIHW 2019a). It combines health loss from living with illness and injury (non-fatal burden, or years lived with disability, or YLD) and dying prematurely (fatal burden, or years of life lost, or YLL) to estimate total health loss (total burden, or disability-adjusted life years, or DALY). One DALY is one year of 'healthy life' lost due to illness and/or death.
Asthma affects people of all ages and has a substantial impact on the community. In Australia, asthma accounted for 34% of the total burden of disease due to respiratory conditions and 2.5% of the total disease burden in 2015 (AIHW 2019a). Between 2003 and 2015, there was a 3.1% increase in the total disease burden from asthma.
Asthma was the leading cause of total burden in children aged 5–14 years, contributing 14% of total burden for boys and 12% of total burden for girls in 2015 (AIHW 2019a).
However, most of the disease burden due to asthma consisted of non-fatal burden (94%) rather than fatal burden (6%) in 2015. Among children aged 0–14, asthma was the leading cause of non-fatal burden. Among people aged 15 and over, asthma still caused a substantial non-fatal burden but was ranked progressively lower with increasing age (AIHW 2019a).
In the younger age groups (ages 0–14), the rate of non-fatal burden (YLD) due to asthma was higher in males than females (Figure 2). The rate of fatal burden (YLL) was highest among those aged 75 and over for both males and females.
The bar chart shows the DALY due to asthma in different age groups by sex in 2015. In younger age group (0–14), the DALY due to asthma was higher in boys than in girls. Meanwhile, in other older age groups (15 and over), the DALY due to asthma was higher in women than in men.
The asthma disease burden varies across different population groups. The rate of total burden (DALY) due to asthma in Remote and very remote areas was 1.3 times as high as the rate in Major cities. Meanwhile, the rate of total burden (DALY) due to asthma in the lowest socioeconomic area was 1.8 times as high as the rate for the highest socioeconomic area. People living in Inner regional and Outer regional areas had a higher rate of fatal burden (YLL) than those living in Major cities and Remote and very remote areas (Figure 3).
The bar chart shows DALY due to asthma by remoteness in 2015. The DALY due to asthma was highest in Remote and very remote areas, and the DALY due to asthma in Major cities, Inner Regional and Outer Regional areas were similar.
In 2015–16, asthma cost the Australian health system an estimated $770 million, representing 19% of disease expenditure on respiratory conditions and 0.7% of total disease expenditure (AIHW 2019b).
This expenditure consisted of:
The bar chart shows the health expenditure on asthma in 2015–16. In general, asthma cost the Australian health system an estimated $770 million. Among them, $205 million for hospitals, $163 million for non-hospital medical services, and $383 million for pharmaceuticals.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): Poulos LM, Cooper SJ, Ampon R, Reddel HK & Marks GB 2014. Mortality from asthma and COPD in Australia. Cat. no. ACM 30. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2018. Australia's health 2018, Chapter 4 Determinants of health, Australia's health series no. 16. Cat. no. AUS 221. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019a. Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015: Interactive data on disease burden. Cat. no. BOD 24. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019b. Disease expenditure in Australia. Cat. no. HWE 76. Canberra: AIHW.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.