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COPD's worldwide toll

Thursday August 17th, 2017

More than three million people die worldwide from chronic respiratory diseases every year, according to an analysis published today.

COPD is responsible for 3.2 million deaths while asthma is responsible for 400,000 deaths, according to the report in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Incidence of asthma is twice that of COPD - but COPD is responsible for eight times as many deaths, according to the analysis.

The researchers say many of these patients could be treated - but patients are often undiagnosed, under-treated or misdiagnosed, they say.

The study finds that COPD incidence is greatest in Papua New Guinea, India, Lesotho and Nepal.

Meanwhile Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Fiji and Swaziland are among those with high asthma incidence rates alongside Lesotho and Papua New Guinea.

The lowest rates of COPD were found in central Europe, north Africa and the Middle East and in the wealthiest countries of the Asia Pacific region.

Professor Theo Vos, of the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, said: "The varied definitions of asthma and COPD around the world mean many people are not diagnosed or are incorrectly diagnosed. For this reason, we need much clearer understanding of how the diseases develop to help us identify cases more conclusively.

"The benefits of a simpler global definition of these diseases would mean more people were diagnosed, and could access the cheap and effective treatments that can prevent these avoidable deaths."

Writing in the journal, Professor Onno van Schayck, of Maastricht University, the Netherlands, calls for measures to reduce smoking and household air pollution.

He says: "To reduce the prevalence of COPD and asthma, interventions should focus on modifiable factors."

Professor Theo Vos et al. Global, regional, and national deaths, prevalence, disability-adjusted life years, and years lived with disability for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 Lancet Respiratory Medicine 17 August 2017 [abstract]

Tags: Africa | Asia | Australia | Europe | North America | Respiratory | World Health

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