News release: MDH releases framework for addressing asthma in Minnesota 

News Release
Jan. 27, 2022

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MDH releases framework for addressing asthma in Minnesota 

The Minnesota Department of Health has released a 10-year strategic framework to improve the health care and quality of life for more than 422,700 Minnesotans who have asthma.

The 10-year plan will focus on closing health equity gaps related to asthma and reducing the burden of uncontrolled asthma, such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, missed days of work or school and preventable health care costs.

“Working through collaborative partnerships across the state, we can achieve these goals and improve the health and quality of life for Minnesotans with asthma,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

Asthma in Minnesota: A Strategic Framework for Improving the Care and Quality of Life of Minnesotans with Asthma 2021-2030 focuses on seven goals, including advocating and building support for people with asthma; building statewide partnerships with health systems, local public health, schools, businesses, and others; collecting and analyzing trend data related to asthma; eliminating asthma health disparities; reducing environmental factors that trigger asthma episodes; increasing the number of people who have the information, skills, and tools to manage their asthma successfully; and developing and piloting new ways and policies to improve asthma management. The plan complements and shares many of the goals and strategies endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Asthma Control Program.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs and one of the most common lifelong health conditions in Minnesota. Genetics and the environment in which Minnesotans live, work, and play both contribute to the development of asthma and an individual’s ability to keep their asthma under control. While there is no cure for asthma, people who have asthma can live normal, healthy lives with proper treatment. In 2019, one in 20 Minnesota children (5.1%) and one in 12 (8.3%) Minnesota adults reported that they currently had asthma. This compares with 7.5% of children and 9.7% of adults nationwide.

Minnesota has made progress in reducing the number of deaths due to asthma. In 1999, the first year for which data are available, 104 Minnesotans died of asthma. The number and rate of asthma deaths have declined since then, with 58 deaths reported in 2018. Most deaths occur in people ages 65 and older. In addition, between 2015 and 2019, asthma rates for children have fallen, both nationwide and in Minnesota. However, since 2011, asthma rates among adults have risen slightly both in Minnesota and the U.S.

Though progress has been made, there is room for improvement and opportunities to prevent asthma episodes and hospitalizations that result in preventable health care costs. Total health care spending on asthma in Minnesota was estimated at $6.7 billion, according to an MDH’s Health Economics Program analysis of 2012 data. Uncontrolled asthma also results in missed work, missed school, or both. Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness in the United States. In Minnesota, in 2017, 33.3% of children with asthma missed one or more days of school due to the condition.

As with other health issues, Minnesota’s asthma health disparities are among the worst in the nation.¬† Low-income groups and communities of color and American Indians experience higher levels of environmental exposures that widen the health gap and result in asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations. In metro area zip codes that are home to communities of color and subject to higher pollution and higher poverty, the rate of hospitalizations can be as high as 20.8 per 10,000: four times higher than the seven-county metro area (5.1/10,000), five times higher than for the state as a whole (4.2/10,000), and 13 times higher than the county with the lowest reportable rate (1.6/10,000).

For more information about the MDH Asthma Program, visit the About Asthma webpage. The framework was developed with input from the MDH Asthma Advisory Committee members, asthma partners, and stakeholders.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith 
MDH Communications