Lung conditions kill more in the UK than other European countries

Respiratory deaths are higher in the United Kingdom than in the respective countries of Europe, North America and Australia, according to a new study published in The BMJ today.

Respiratory diseases such as obstructive pulmonary diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and infections such as pneumonia are common causes of death, but mortality rates can be reduced by effective interventions in the healthcare sector.

Death rates have fallen to all countries and the authors wanted to consider whether the gap between the United Kingdom and similar countries, especially those of the European Union, had been closed.

In the United Kingdom, deaths declined from 151 to 89 per 100,000 in men and changed from 67 to 68 per 100,000 in women. In comparison countries, death rates declined from 108 to 69 per 100,000 in men and changed from 35 to 37 per 100,000 in women.

The international research team, headed by Justin Salciccioli at Harvard Medical School, acquired data on mortality rates for respiratory diseases from the World Health Organization (WHO) mortality database for countries of interest.

Data for the United Kingdom was compared with data from other EU Member States before May 2004. Between 1985 and 2015, death rates from respiratory conditions decreased for men and remained relatively static for women both in The United Kingdom and the countries of comparison. However, mortality rates remained higher in the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, death rates were higher than in other countries for all respiratory conditions evaluated except for lung cancer. These include lung infections (including influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis). interstitial diseases (conditions affecting the tissue and the area around the airbags of the lungs). and obstructive diseases such as COPD, asthma, and bronchiectasis (where lung lung diseases are unusually rising).

Previously higher UK mortality rates from respiratory conditions have been attributed to the highest smoking rates in the United Kingdom, but smoking levels have declined significantly since the 1970s.

"The difference in mortality between the United Kingdom and other similar nations is not present for other chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases or death from kidney disease," the authors of the study concluded.