You know the signs: wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing. When an asthma attack strikes, its presence can stop you in your tracks.

A Highly Publicized Asthma Death

One of the most publicized examples of this is the asthma death of 43-year-old journalist Anthony Shadid. In February 2012, Shadid died of what appeared to be an asthma attack while he was working on a story in Syria. Reports say that Shadid did have his asthma medications on hand but may have collapsed before he could use them. He also had earlier symptoms but these may not have been enough to alert him to seek medical attention.

The Scope of Asthma Deaths

While not all deadly asthma attacks receive such widespread media attention as this fatal case did, Shadid's situation is certainly not all that unusual. As many as 3,600 people die from asthma each year in the United States.

Thankfully, that number has actually gone down in the past two decades. Experts credit the lower asthma fatality rate to a better understanding of how to effectively manage and treat asthma.

The Need for an Asthma Management Plan

The best way to manage asthma and to keep it from becoming life threatening is to develop a detailed Asthma Action Plan with the help of your doctor. A comprehensive plan should help you:

  • Identify your triggers and help you avoid them.
  • Remind you to closely monitor your symptoms.
  • Alert you to changes or early warning signs that could signal an asthma attack coming on.
  • Direct you on how to adjust your medication.
  • Tell you when you should seek emergency medical care.

Be Proactive

It's also essential that you take your asthma control medication as directed and avoid skipping doses even when you're feeling well. If you notice having more frequent asthma flare ups, you'll also need to make it a priority to see your doctor to the root of the problem.

While Shadid's death is tragic, it can serve as an important reminder to take your condition seriously and follow all of the appropriate asthma management steps to keep yourself from becoming a statistic.




ABC News Medical Unit. "Reporter Anthony Shadid's Death Highlights Asthma Dangers." 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 25 March 2012,

American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology. "Asthma Triggers and Management: Tips to Remember." Web. 30 March 2012. US News. "Shadid, New York Times Correspondent, Dead at 43." 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 25 March 2012.