Incidence and prevalence rates of asthma can vary greatly according to population and location. The National Heart and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health defines asthma as a common chronic disorder of the airways that involves a complex interaction of airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and an underlying inflammation. This article uses the most common definitions and diagnostic methods for asthma. In 2009 there were 2.1 million asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits. ED visits lend an opportunity for providers to identify and intervene in the care of patients whose asthma is poorly controlled.
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