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Asthma Mortality Risk More Than 2 Times Higher for Black and Puerto Rican Individuals Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites

AAAAI News Release

June 1, 2022

Lori Holly, Director of Communications
(414) 272-6071

Research published in an official AAAAI journal finds asthma mortality rates differ greatly based on race/ethnicity, age, and sex.  

Milwaukee, WI – In the United States, asthma mortality rates were higher for Black and Puerto Rican individuals and women as a whole, according to research published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice (JACI: In Practice), an official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Researchers used retrospective analysis to examine asthma as the underlying cause of death from 2011 to 2018. The main outcome studied was mortality rates by race and Hispanic ethnicity, including non-Hispanic Black (NHB), Hispanic residents of Puerto Rico (PR) and non-Hispanic White (NHW). Age-standardized asthma mortality (ASAM) was estimated for race/ethnic groups, sex and age in the study.

A total of 24,869 asthma deaths were reported during the study period. When adjusted using ASAM’s association to race/ethnicity and sex, the asthma mortality risk was 2.8 times higher for NHB compared to NHW. PR showed a 2.17 times higher mortality risk compared to NHW. Overall, women’s risk of dying from asthma was 39% higher than it was for men.

“Our research demonstrated that asthma mortality rates for Puerto Ricans doubled those of non-Hispanic Whites, and approached the rate of non-Hispanic blacks in the United States,” said researcher Sylvette Nazario, MD. “While the cause of this elevated mortality rate among Puerto Ricans is unknown, a number of factors likely contribute to these findings including environmental and socioeconomic elements.”

Age also played a role in asthma mortality, with mortality rates increasing with age overall. According to the data, NHB men younger than 35, NHB women aged 35-64 and PR women 65 and older had the highest rates of asthma mortality. The average age of death was over a decade younger for NHB with asthma compared to NHW and PR with asthma. Mortality rates worsened with increasing age for women, regardless of the ethnic/racial group. The highest asthma mortality rates were among PR elderly women.

“Sex disparities continued to worsen with increasing age no matter the ethnic or racial group. There is likely a common contributing factor at play that needs to be addressed,” Dr. Nazario added. “As we gain a better understanding of the characteristics that contribute to disparities, we will be better prepared to take actions that prevent unnecessary deaths.”

You can learn more about asthma on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website,

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is the leading membership organization of more than 7,100 allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. The AAAAI is the go-to resource for patients living with allergies, asthma and immune deficiency disorders. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 7,100 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.