Asthma, a chronic and increasing problem
Asthma is a lifelong disease resulting in widespread ill health, with high levels of unmet medical need.
The changes in lifestyle that come with higher income carry with them increased risk of a range of diseases. Obesity and cardiac disease from excessive food intake, cancers from extended lifespans and exposure to carcinogenic agents, and asthma, in large part from exposure to the dust mites that live in bedding and the carpets and soft furnishings in home and work environments. Asthma is a huge problem in the industrialised nations of the world, and with changes in lifestyle is expanding in the less industrialised nations.
Asthma is a leading cause of ill health and death in the industrialised world. In the 2014 Global Asthma Report, it is estimated that 334 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. Of those, approximately one fifth will have severe asthma requiring frequent hospitalisation. The number of people with asthma continues to grow. One in 12 people had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 in 2001. The US Centres for Disease Control report 1.7 million visits to emergency departments with asthma as the primary diagnosis. The World Health Organisation notes that 383,000 people every year will die worldwide as a result of asthma.
An allergic response to allergens produced by the house dust mite (HDM) is widely accepted as the leading cause of both sensitization, leading to the future development of asthma, and of triggering acute asthma attacks.