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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 24


Additional  Healthy People  Indicators

22 - Life Expectancy

23 - Infectious Diseases

25 - Workplace Fatalities

Asthma

Number of reported hospital admissions for asthma per 100,000 people: Decreasing

  Things to think about 

Asthma is the leading cause of school days missed due to illness.

With good medical management, many asthma attacks can be prevented and should not require hospitalization.

Asthma afflicts our children, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and those of us who already have other respiratory illnesses more than other New Jerseyans.

Note: In the 1999 Sustainable State Project Report, the chart was labeled "Asthma" but included admissions due to both asthma and bronchitis. This report includes only asthma.

Importance

Asthma is believed to be caused in part by poor air quality. Moreover, asthma is an indicator of environmental conditions that can cause a host of other serious respiratory ailments. It is a leading indicator of health care costs and reduced economic productivity as well as of human suffering.

Economic

Elevated asthma rates increase health care costs. When their symptoms become severe, asthmatics are also sometimes unable to work, and so part of their productivity is lost as well.

Environmental

The amount of suffering from asthma is a proxy measurement for local air quality conditions, and those conditions can trigger other respiratory ailments. Air quality is an interesting indicator because it is caused by many environmental problems such as automobile emissions, electricity generation, open space destruction, and pollution from manufacturing. These connections tie public health to related issues such as environmental quality, vehicle miles traveled, ridership of mass transit, and economic productivity.

Social

The simple ability to go out and play, or walk around and be neighborly, is a pillar of our civil lives. But asthma keeps some of us inside, especially on hot summer days when air quality is poor.

Knowledge Gaps

We do not fully understand the triggers of asthma. To combat the disease it is essential to know the interactions between the host of potential causes. In 1996, asthma was the tenth most common diagnosis nationally in hospital emergency rooms. We are not yet able to track emergency room visits in New Jersey, but it is probable that asthma is one of the most frequent diagnoses. Hospitalizations are only a proxy for asthma incidents. Asthma incidents may vary, yet not be fully reflected in the number of hospital visits.

Data Source: NJ Department of Health & Senior Services

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 27, 2007

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