Asthma deaths on the rise in Ireland

People urged to have asthma action plans
  • Deborah Condon

Asthma deaths are on the rise in Ireland, yet two-thirds of people with the condition do not have an asthma action plan, the Asthma Society of Ireland has warned.

This week is Asthma Awareness Week and as part of this, the society has launched the results of an asthma management survey. According to the findings, there appears to be a lack of awareness about how best to manage the condition.

"It is truly frightening that asthma deaths are on the rise in Ireland - a person now dies every five days from the condition. Our survey highlighted a huge lack of awareness of how to manage asthma.

"The results showed that in the event of an asthma attack, most people wouldn't know the necessary steps to take to save a life. Some 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma and 60% do not have their asthma in control, greatly increasing the risk of suffering a fatal asthma attack," commented the society's CEO, Sarah O'Connor.

The society is calling on people with asthma to develop an asthma action plan in order to reduce their risk of suffering a fatal attack. UK research indicates that those with an up-to-date asthma plan are far less likely to experience a fatal attack.

According to the survey findings, two-thirds of people with asthma do not have an action plan and two-thirds have not spoken to their healthcare professional in the last six months.

Furthermore, almost seven in 10 people with asthma do not know the ‘5 step rule' to managing an asthma attack and nine out of 10 do not carry an asthma attack card with them at all times.

The survey also found that a high number of people were not using their inhalers correctly.

As part of Asthma Awareness Week, the society has produced two videos, both of which provide tips about asthma management from people affected by the condition. The two videos can be viewed here and here.

For more information on how to compile an asthma action plan, click here.

In the event of an asthma attack, you should follow the 5 step rule without delay:
1. Stay calm and sit up straight. Do not lie down
2. Take slow, steady breaths
3. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every minute. Use a spacer if available. People over six years of age can take up to 10 puffs in 10 minutes. Children under six can take up to six puffs in 10 minutes
4. Call 112 or 999 if your symptoms do not improve after 10 minutes
5. Repeat step three if an ambulance has not arrived in 10 minutes.

Anyone with any questions about asthma or COPD can phone the Asthma and COPD Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64, where they can speak to a respiratory nurse specialist free of charge.


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