A survey of over 50,000 people with asthma found that 52% did not think they were at risk of acute episodes – yet 93% of them were.
Better monitoring and regular inhaler use could prevent most of the 1,000 asthma-related deaths that occur in the UK each year, the charity said.
Asthma UK published the survey results as part of its Stop Asthma Deaths campaign, which focuses on preventing acute and potentially lethal attacks.
A total of 5.4 million people in the UK (one in 12) suffer from asthma, one of the highest rates in Europe. The disease caused 1,143 deaths in the UK in 2010. The treatment and care of asthma patients costs the NHS around £1 billion per year. However, 75% of hospital admissions for asthma are preventable.
Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said: “Millions of people with asthma are unaware that the condition can be fatal and that they are regularly taking huge risks with their lives. We can all help stop asthma deaths, and we need to start by changing the attitude that ‘it’s just asthma’.
The charity recommends three steps to minimise the risk of an asthma attack: daily use of a preventer inhaler, immediate inhaler use to correct worsening symptoms, and developing a personal asthma action plan.
“We’ve launched the Stop Asthma Deaths campaign to help people reduce their chance of having of an attack – but they can’t do this alone. Healthcare professionals also have a crucial part to play in helping people manage their asthma and spotting who may be in danger.”