Most adults with asthma unaware they are affected

More than 70 percent of adults with asthma in China are not aware they have it, highlighting the urgency for improved diagnosis and treatment, new research shows.

Led by the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, the study estimated there are more than 45 million adults with asthma, with a rate of about 4.6 percent for men and 3.7 percent for women. Smokers are more likely to suffer asthma, and among nonsmokers, air pollution both outdoors and indoors can increase their risks of getting the disease.

“Asthma has become a major health problem that requires urgent efforts to be solved, and government health policies should make major respiratory diseases such as asthma a higher priority to improve prevention and control as soon as possible,” said Wang Chen, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

The study was based on surveys of more than 50,000 residents in 10 provinces and municipalities. A paper on the research was published in the international medical journal Lancet last week.

Asthma is a common disease, but surveys have shown many hospitals and clinics at the grassroots, especially in rural areas, lack adequate knowledge of it and cannot provide precise and standard treatment, Wang said.

Respiratory doctors at major hospitals should take the lead in promoting knowledge of asthma, he said.

“A tiered diagnosis and treatment system for asthma should be established so patients with common asthma can get diagnosis and treatment at grassroots facilities, while trickier asthma cases should be treated at medical centers,” he said.

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