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Will I die from asthma?


Each day, 9 Americans die from asthma.  Most healthcare workers would suggest that these deaths could have been prevented. Severe asthma attacks can occur no matter whether you have been diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe asthma.  Who is at high risk for a fatal asthma attack?

The risk factors for having a fatal asthma attack include:

Asthma history

  • Previous severe asthma attack requiring tracheal intubation or ICU admission
  • 2 or more hospitalizations for asthma in the past year
  • 3 or more ED visits for asthma in the past year
  • Hospitalization or ED visit for asthma in the past month
  • Using >2 canisters of albuterol per month
  • Difficulty perceiving asthma symptoms or the severity of attacks
  • Other risk factors:  lack of a written asthma action plan, sensitivity to the mold Alternaria

Social history

  • Low socioeconomic status or living in the inner-city
  • Illicit drug use
  • Major psychosocial problems


  • Heart disease
  • Other chronic lung diseases like COPD
  • Psychiatric disease, especially depression

If you have these risk factors, see an asthma specialist!  While there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled.

For a recent publication co-authored by Dr. Zacharisen looking at asthma deaths in Milwaukee County, go to:

This educational information does not take the place of your physician’s advice.


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