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As Minister for Health Simon Harris launched the first ever Asthma Awareness Week today, the Asthma Society shared some scary statistics about the illness. Asthma-related deaths are on the rise, with one person in Ireland losing their life every five days as a result of closed airways. Worryingly, two out of every three people with asthma do not have an Asthma Action Plan and are therefore at risk of a potentially fatal asthma attack. Society is now calling on those suffering with asthma to get an Asthma Action Plan. Research was conducted after the troubling recent figures for asthma deaths were published, and are still on the rise. Only 63 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed knew there was a 5 Step Rule for managing an asthma attack, and two out of three people with asthma haven’t spoken to their doctor in the last six months. Three out of five people with asthma also don’t use their inhaler all year round. 90 percent of people with asthma don’t carry an Asthma Attack Card with them at all times, and 20 percent wouldn’t know the six most common symptoms of an asthma attack, according to the Asthma Management. CEO of Asthma Society, Sarah O’Connor, said: “It is truly frightening that asthma deaths are on the rise in Ireland. The survey results showed that, in the event of an asthma attack, most people wouldn’t know the necessary steps to take to save a life (the 5 Step Rule). 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma and 60% do not have their asthma in control, greatly increasing the risk of suffering a fatal asthma attack.” UK research into asthma deaths showed that having an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan made it far less likely that a person would experience a fatal asthma attack. Through Asthma Awareness Week, it is hoped that people nationwide will put an Asthma Action Plan into place. Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said: “I am strongly supporting the Asthma Society’s campaign today, encouraging people to take control of their asthma. Asthma management is extremely important. It allows people with the condition to live a longer, healthier and happier life. I encourage everyone to put an Asthma Action Plan in place – it is the one of the best asthma management tools available. “People with asthma can work with their GP or asthma nurse or phone the Asthma and COPD Adviceline for help to create their personalised plan on 1800 44 54 64.” People with asthma should carry an Asthma Attack Card with them at all times. which details the 5 Step Rule for managing an attack and the symptoms and can be given to a member of the public. This card also contains the person’s emergency details including their next of kin. Asthma Awareness Week will continue until Friday. To support the Asthma Society, text BREATHE to 50300 to donate €4. The society’s free advice line is 1800-44-54-64 and don’t forget to check their website for more information on managing asthma.