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ASTHMA DEATH RATE HAS JUMPED BY MORE THAN 30% IN 7 YEARS

SHARE ASTHMA DEATH RATE HAS JUMPED BY MORE THAN 30% IN 7 YEARS

Nearly 10 million Americans now suffer from asthma, and the death rate from it has increased more than 30 percent in seven years, according to a new report from federal health researchers.

The national Centers for Disease Control reported Thursday that between 1980 and 1987, the death rate from asthma in the United States rose from 1.3 per 100,000 population to 1.7. The number of actual asthma deaths rose from 2,891 in 1980 to 4,360 in 1987, the latest year for which statistical analysis is available.The increase in asthma fatalities comes as more and more Americans suffer from the chronic disease, characterized by difficulty in breathing. An estimated 9.6 million people in the United States were affected by asthma in 1987, or about 4 percent of the population, compared with 6.8 million in 1980, the CDC said in its weekly report.

The death rate for asthma was "consistently higher" for blacks than for whites, the CDC said. For blacks, the asthma fatality rate increased 44 percent from 1980 to 1987 - from 2.5 per 100,000 to 3.6 - while the white fatality rate increased 36 percent, from 1.1 to 1.5.

Death rates were higher for older people, with the highest rate of asthma death - 7.9 per 100,000 in 1987 - for people 65 and older.

A number of factors may contribute to the increases in asthma deaths and cases, the CDC said. They include exposure to infections and other "triggers" for bronchial constriction, health-care factors and air quality.

The agency called on health-care workers to promote "timely and aggressive medical treatment" for asthma.