Purpose: To determine whether the increased prevalence of asthma in Japan has influenced its mortality.
Materials and methods: A descriptive study was conducted by the data obtained from Patient Survey and Vital Statistics of Japan between 1984 and 1996. Asthma fatalities were expressed as the number of deaths from asthma per 100,000 asthmatic patients receiving medical treatment on the day when the survey was conducted.
Results: Mortality, prevalence and asthma fatalities showed different changing patterns among several age groups. Asthma mortality for the 10-24 and 25-44 year-old groups increased during the study period, while for other age groups, it decreased. The prevalence increased for all groups classified by age and sex. Asthma fatalities peaked in 1987 among the 10-24, 25-44 and 45-64 year-old groups, and decreased for others throughout the study period.
Conclusions: There is a possibility that an age-specific phenomenon is at work here because asthma mortality increased only in the 10-24 and 25-44 year-old groups, although the prevalence of asthma increased in all groups, whether classified by age or sex. The asthma fatality of the 10-24, 25-44 and 45-64 year-old groups peaked in 1987: it is conceivable that this was influenced by the particular drug therapy used. The increase in asthma mortality in the 10-24 and 25-44 year-olds might be influenced by the increased prevalence.