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Increased Risk of Death From Asthma

It is important to maintain good control of asthma, because asthma can cause death. Children and adults who have had one or more severe, life-threatening asthma attacks (status asthmaticus) are at increased risk of death from asthma.

Also, if people with asthma don't follow their treatment plans and they overuse quick-relief medicine, they may not seek care when it is needed. This might increase their chances of having severe asthma attacks that could be life-threatening or cause death.

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Other factors that may increase the risk of death from asthma include:1

  • Not having a written asthma action plan.
  • Prior need for a breathing tube (intubation) for asthma.
  • Two or more hospital stays for asthma in the past year.
  • Three or more visits to the emergency room in the past year.
  • A stay in the hospital or an emergency room visit for asthma in the past month.
  • Not being able to tell whether breathing is becoming worse.
  • Use of illegal drugs.
  • Living in poverty.
  • Having a serious mental illness.
  • Having another health problem, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or cardiovascular disease.
  • Allergy to a certain kind of outdoor mold (Alternaria).


  1. National Institutes of Health (2007). National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (NIH Publication No. 08-5846). Available online:

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised February 13, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 13, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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