in Western North Carolina

Why is asthma a key health issue in western North Carolina?

The percentage of adults diagnosed with asthma in western North Carolina has risen from 9.7% in 2015 to 11.4% in 2018. 

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

Click on the counties listed in "Change Filter" on top of the chart to select which counties you want to view.

What do the numbers say about asthma?

Western North Carolina (WNC) Data:

Approximately 1 in 10 (11.4%) adults in WNC have been diagnosed with asthma. The following adult populations were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with asthma in 2018:

- Women (13.9%)

- Adults aged 18-39 years (13.2%)

- Very low income (22.4%)

- Those identifying as AI/AN (Native American)(31.3%) or Hispanic (19.7%)

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

Differences in health outcomes across social groups, economic status, and racial/ethnic identity are closely linked with disparities in social determinants of health, which disproportionately burden individuals and communities who experience systemic disadvantage and/ or discrimination. See our data story on the social determinants of health to learn more about how the conditions in which people are born, live, work, play, learn, worship, and age can influence their ability to achieve good health for themselves and their families. 

Tobacco use (which can trigger asthma) in WNC has remained at or above the North Carolina and US average percent for adults in 2012, 2015 and 2018. 

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

State and National Findings:

In 2015, 13.4% of North Carolinians answered "yes" when asked if they had ever been told by a healthcare professional that they had asthma.

(N.C. State Center for Health Statistics, 2016)

About 1 in 10 children (10%) had asthma and 1 in 12 adults (8%) had asthma in 2009. Women were more likely than men and boys more likely than girls to have asthma. 

(CDC, 2011)

The greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children (almost a 50% increase) from 2001 through 2009.

(CDC, 2011)

In 2004, the total estimated economic cost of asthma, including direct and indirect costs, for North Carolina exceeded $706 million dollars. 

(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2014)

What did the region say is the story behind the asthma numbers?

Source: WNCHN - Online Key Informant Survey, 2018

 The items below are paraphrased themes that emerged from a 2018 regional survey of key informants. These responses do not necessarily:

    •Reflect accurate or scientifically validated information about health determinants, outcomes, and/or strategies for change, 
    •Represent an exhaustive list of factors that can help or hurt efforts to address this key regional health issue.
The information in this section should be interpreted and used with care. It should be used only to help local health departments and agencies begin to understand community perceptions about local health issues. Communities are strongly encouraged to collect their own, local-level data to inform local planning and evaluation activities.

"More open conversations about asthma and upper respiratory infections.” 

“The focus on overall health and nutrition is very helpful to overcoming this. Also, there is a good focus on keeping our air clean and healthful.”

“Air quality, pollution, and lack of low cost and accessible medical care...We should acknowledge barriers to people... including transportation, awareness of services, stigma around free medical care, and treatment when receiving care or services.” 

How is the region prioritizing this issue?

The western North Carolina region includes 17 communities: 16 counties and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI)

In the 2018 CHA cycle, while no communities chose to prioritize asthma, asthma is linked with other health priorities in WNC such as obesity.

Learn more about how counties in western North Carolina work to determine their local community health priorities by watching the video (right). 

What is already happening regionally?

The list below represents a sample of what is happening in the region around this key health issue. Visit for more resources. 

Regional Asthma Disease Management Program (Mission Children’s Hospital, with support from the NCDHHS Office of Rural Health)

The regional dataset (WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey and Online Key Informant Survey) is available thanks to contributions from hospitals in the 16-county region of western North Carolina. Thank you!