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Part of:  Ill Health and Disability

Related to: Air Quality, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, [[Health Checks]], Major Causes of Mortality, Healthy Weight, Physical Activity, SmokingMedicines Management and Optimisation, Children and Young People

Key Facts:

  • There were 12,353 (2012/13 financial year) people registered with asthma in GP practises in Bath and North East Somerset.
  • The rate of asthma in in the GP registered population of Bath and North East Somerset during 2008-2012 has remained at around 6.2%. This is lower than the South West but higher than nationally.
  • Hospital admissions for asthma in Bath and North East Somerset are lower than regionally and nationally
  • In B&NES in 2013/14 there were 136.7 emergency hospital admissions of young people aged 0-18 for asthma per 100,000 population aged 0 to 18 years, lower than the South West as a whole (161.5) and England (197.1)

Asthma is a common long-term condition that can lead to difficulty breathing, a cough, wheezing, and a tight chest. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time.

Asthma is caused by the inflammation of the airways (bronchi) which carry air out of the lungs, and it makes these more sensitive. When those with asthma come in contact with something that irritates their lungs, the airways become narrow, the muscles around them tighten and there is an increase in the production of phlegm. Common triggers include house dust mites, animal fur, pollen, tobacco smoke, exercise, cold air and chest infections.  The cause of asthma is not fully understood, although it is known to run in families.

A severe onset of symptoms is known as an asthma attack or an ‘acute asthma exacerbation’. Asthma attacks may require hospital treatment and can sometimes be life threatening. Asthma can develop at any age, but it often begins in childhood. Asthma diagnosed in childhood can sometimes disappear later on in life, but can then return. 1

 

What does the data say?

 

In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma.2

Asthma in adults is more common in women than men. 3

There were 12,353 (2012/13 financial) people registered with asthma in GP practises in Bath and North East Somerset. 4

The prevalence rate of asthma has remained consistent locally and nationally between 2008/09-2012/13 (financial years). The prevalence of asthma in B&NES during this period has remained at around 6.2% which is slightly higher than the national rate of 5.9-6.0%. 5

 

asthma_-_rates_in_the_bnes_and_england_gp_populations_-_2008-2013_line_graph.

 

Figure 1: Asthma prevalence in B&NES and England GP registered populations (2008/09 – 2012/13 financial years) 6

*It is important to note that the above rates are based on the GP registered population of Bath and North East Somerset and so some of these people may not be residents of Bath North East Somerset. Nevertheless, the vast majority of people will be registered with a GP in their county of residence.

For more up to date prevalence figures for asthma recorded as part of the NHS Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), see the Ill Health and Disability section. 

Hospital admissions for asthma in Bath and North East Somerset are lower than regionally and nationally; 0.8 per 1000 population in B&NES, 1.0 regionally, 1.2 nationally (2010/11). 7

Cost per hospital admission in Bath and North East Somerset are in line with nationally and, but lower than they are regionally; £953 in B&NES, £946 nationally, and £1,018 South West (2010/11). 8

Children and young people 

In B&NES in 2013/14 there were 136.7 emergency hospital admissions of young people aged 0-18 for asthma per 100,000 population aged 0 to 18 years (50 admissions), lower than the South West as a whole (161.5) and England (197.1).  9 

What does the community say?

The Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey 10

The Health-Related Behaviour Survey developed by the Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) is designed for young people of primary and secondary school age. The surveys have been developed by health and education professionals, and cover a wide range of topics. Data arising from the survey can be used to help inform planning and policy decisions as well being used in the classroom as the stimulus for discussion with young people. These surveys are carried out every two years.

When considering the results of the Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey in B&NES it is worth bearing in mind the level of participation in the survey, and thus how representative the responses are likely to be of children in B&NES as a whole. For more information see the Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey section in Children and Young People

In 2013 when primary school children in B&NES in year 4 and 6 were asked whether they had asthma and whether they took any medicine for it:

  • 14% of pupils responded that they have asthma, slighter higher than the national SHEU rate of 12%.
  • 13% of pupils responded that they took medicine for asthma (pills, inhaler) in the 7 days before the survey, again slightly higher than the national SHEU rate of 11%.

Are we meeting the needs?

Mortality from asthma in Bath & North East Somerset has decreased since 1993 in line with comparator areas but there is large year on year variation in rates, although rates in general are low. 11

The lowest mortality rate for asthma in Bath and North East Somerset was in 2008 (~0.22 per 100,000), in 2010 the rate was only ~0.53 per 100,000, compared with ~1.13 per 100,000 nationally and about 1 per 100,000 regionally. It is important to bear in mind though that the mortality rates for asthma vary a great deal year on year.  12