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Survey: Asthma Not Well-Controlled for Most Canadians

  • Survey by The Lung Association reveals 9 in 10 Canadians with asthma do not have it under control
  • 41% do not exercise at all due to their asthma
  • 33% miss school, work, or other social activities due to their asthma
  • Survey highlights the need to improve understanding of proper asthma control

OTTAWA, October 25, 2016 – Asthma still makes daily life difficult for some Canadians. Ninety per cent of surveyed Canadians with asthma admit to symptoms and situations that show their condition is not being well-controlled. In direct contrast, the same number of people perceive their asthma to be well-controlled, according to results from a new report released today by the Canadian Lung Association – Asthma Control in Canada™ Survey.[1]

“Canada is at a crossroads when it comes to understanding and managing lung health,” says Debra Lynkowski, CEO of The Lung Association. “With over 300 Canadians diagnosed with asthma every day, the Lung Association commissioned this national survey to tell us what the state of asthma control is in Canada.”

The purpose of asthma management is to achieve total asthma control, which falls under two domains: current control which reflects day-to-day symptoms, and future risk, which consists of asthma flare-ups that can result in irreversible decrease in lung function.[2]

The survey that informed the report found gaps in understanding of proper treatment and asthma management among Canadians and physicians, as per best practices outlined by the Canadian Thoracic Society Guidelines. The survey highlights that among Canadians with asthma: [3]

  • 75 per cent report having asthma flare ups
  • 65 per cent have difficulty exercising because of their asthma
  • 32 per cent experience asthma symptoms and require a relief inhaler four or more days per week
  • Almost half (45 per cent) regularly have a hard time breathing with day-to-day activities
  • 41 per cent do not exercise at all because of their asthma

The survey also found that more than eight in 10 general practitioners (GPs) (81 per cent) believe patients do not take their asthma treatment as seriously as they should.

“There appears to be a clear disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to treating and managing asthma,” says Dr. Paul O’Byrne, Respirologist, Dean and VP, McMaster Health Sciences. “We have great treatments, but perceptions about the lack of seriousness of asthma may be resulting in less than optimal management of the disease.”

Although Canadians with asthma agree that controlling asthma is their own responsibility, the survey showed that 14 per cent are not taking their medication as prescribed, and among these, 65 per cent admit to only taking their medication when they need it.


Asthma in Canada

Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the country, affecting 2.4 million Canadians.[4] Last year alone, asthma attacks caused over 70,000 emergency room visits[5] – a significant burden on the healthcare system. It is estimated that by the year 2030, asthma will cost Canadians more than $4 billion per year, more than double the current cost to the economy.[6] 

Control is Possible

For most people with asthma, it is possible to get their asthma under control. The Lung Association recommends:

  • Working with your healthcare professional to develop a written action plan
  • Learning about your asthma triggers and how to avoid them. For some, asthma triggers include cigarette smoke, dust and mould
  • Taking precautions to avoid getting the flu or a cold, which can make asthma symptoms worse
  • Taking medication as prescribed

While there is no cure for asthma, proper diagnosis, treatment and patient education can result in good asthma control and management;[7] and most Canadians with asthma (90 per cent) agree that with proper diagnosis and treatment they can live full and active lives and combat asthma in the future.

“The take home message is clear,” says Lynkowski. “We all need to work together to ensure asthma management in Canada improves. Everyone with asthma must have access to the resources and education they need to properly manage their disease and live their fullest life.”

It’s important that Canadians with asthma have a clear understanding of what it means to have their asthma under control. Speak to your healthcare professional if you’re having symptoms, or call the Lung Line toll-free to speak with a respiratory educator at 1-866-717-2673.

To access the full 2016 Asthma Control Report visit here




For more information, contact:

Jay Virani
NATIONAL Public Relations


[1] 2016 Asthma Control Report Survey. Leger.

[2] Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR-3): guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma-summary report 2007. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007; 120(suppl):S94-138.

[3] 2016 Asthma Control Report Survey. Leger.

[4] Statistics Canada. Asthma, 2014. Available at: Accessed September 2016.   

[5] Canadian Institute for Health Information: Asthma Emergency Department Visits: Volume and Median Length of Stay. 2014-2015. Available at: Accessed September 2016.

[6] Conference board of Canada. Cost Risk Analysis for Chronic Lung Disease in Canada. March 2012. Available at: Accessed September 2016.

[7] The World Health Organization. 10 Facts on Asthma. Available at: Accessed September 2016.