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Asthma Cases Have Soared In Last Decade

Asthma cases and deaths from the disease have soared at least 40 percent since 1982, and air pollution, airtight homes and windowless offices may play a role, government health officials said Thursday.

About 5 percent of the nation’s population - or roughly 13 million people - suffer from asthma, an inflammation of the airways that results in wheezing and shortness of breath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

From 1982 through 1992, the rate of asthma rose 42 percent, from 34.7 sufferers per 1,000 people to 49.4, the CDC said. From 1982 through 1991, the latest year for which data were available, the death rate for asthmatics rose 40 percent, from 13.4 per 1 million people to 18.8, or 3,154 deaths to 5,106.

The CDC report follows by about a month two studies with similar findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Deaths from it remain relatively rare, but the disease is rapidly increasing and researchers aren’t sure why.