Doctors oversee patient.
(photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
The prevalence of asthma among all ages in Israel is eight percent of the population, relatively low compared to England at about twice that number and 11% in the US, according to Prof. Zvi Fridlender, head of the center for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and smoking damage at Hadassah- University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
Over the past two years, deaths from COPD, which includes asthma, but is caused mainly by smoking, and in rare cases by exposure to asbestos, have been significantly lower in Israel, according to Fridlender, because of easy accessibility to drugs for asthma and health services.
However, he did not provide specific figures.
There is also a clear decrease in the hospitalization of children suffering from asthma, he said, crediting the increased use of inhalers.
Beyond cases of COPD, Fridlender, who reported the statistics on Tuesday, World Asthma Day, said there has been an increase in asthma among older people in the past two years. Again, however, no specific figures were provided.
Older asthma sufferers tend to believe their condition is under control, although often it is not. Ninety-one percent think they are balanced, however, only 38% of Israeli patients are truly under control (determined by whether they have fewer than two attacks a week, and the attacks do not cause them to wake up at night), he said.
Asthma slips out of control when sufferers fail to undergo treatment after they are exposed to a trigger, such as an allergen or second-hand smoke. Between a third and two-thirds of asthma patients do not take their medications regularly, he added, while clarifying that not everyone with shortness of breath has asthma.
“Incorrect diagnosis can cause patients to get incorrect treatment, or in amounts that will not help them. It’s important to clearly identify asthma through lung-function tests,” he said.