Tasmanians living in rural areas are more likely to be hospitalised for asthma or chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than their suburban counterparts, a new report by the
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals.

Asthma Foundation of Tasmania (AFT) CEO Cathy Beswick said King Island, Flinders Island and
the west, north-west and north-east of the State had higher rates of hospitalisation than the
south, central, east and north coast.

“Whether an area has higher or lower rate depends on the prevalence of asthma, comorbidities
(co-existing diseases/conditions in a person), ease of hospital access, less primary
care access and re-admission rates,” Ms Beswick said.

“The lower rates are also consistent with better roads and access to more sophisticated
medical facilities.”

The report, Geographic distribution of asthma and COPD hospitalisations in Australia 2007-08
to 2009-10, shows similar results across the country, with low socioeconomic status,
remoteness and proportion of Indigenous Australians being among the key factors identified.
Ms Beswick said the report provided a timely reminder for all Tasmanians with asthma to
ensure they had their asthma under control to avoid it turning into an emergency.

“We estimate more than 13,500 asthmatics in Tasmania are not in adequate control of their
asthma, as evidenced by statewide pharmacy data,” she said.

“While there is no cure for asthma it can be controlled and the impact it has on the lives of
those who have it can be significantly reduced, which many people don’t seem to realise.

“If there is one thing everyone with asthma should know it’s that no matter whether you think
your asthma is under control or not, you must always carry your blue/grey reliever puffer.

“Sadly, people who think their asthma is okay can get into a lot of trouble because they often
don’t have their medication in an emergency.

“Anyone who uses their blue/grey reliever more than three times a week needs to make an
appointment with their GP as soon as possible.”

The Asthma Foundation provides free help and advice to Tasmanians living with asthma. To
start feeling better, call the Foundation on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or visit:
http://www.asthmatas.org.au.