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Global COPD Mortality Increased 11% From 1990 to 2015

Alison Rodriguez
The overwhelmingly high number of deaths related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma-the 2 most common chronic respiratory diseases in the world-call for affordable interventions that have the ability to prevent or treat the severe chronic respiratory burden.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma represent the 2 most common chronic respiratory diseases in the world. The overwhelmingly high number of deaths that are related to these diseases call for affordable interventions that have the ability to prevent or treat the severe chronic respiratory burden.

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine recently published a new Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) 2015 study that analyzed the prevalence of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worldwide. The researchers collected data of 310 diseases and injuries among 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2015 and analyzed the cause of death with GBD’s Cause of Death Ensemble modeling (CODEm) tool. Additionally, estimates were made on the number of non-fatal COPD cases, non-fatal asthma cases, risk estimation, and the disability-adjusted life years (DALY).

The results revealed that 3.2 million people died from COPD worldwide in 2015, an 11.6% increase since 1990, while the overall prevalence of COPD increased during that same time period by 44.2%. Asthma accounted for 0.4 million deaths in 2015, which was a decreased rate of 26.7% since 1990, but the overall prevalence increased by 12.6%.

“The absence of a relationship between asthma prevalence and asthma death rates, and our knowledge about asthma pathophysiology and clinical trial findings, add evidence that most asthma deaths at all ages are preventable by treatment with low-dose inhaled corticosteroids and other management strategies or, to a lesser extent, avoidance of risk factors,” the researchers explained. “Indeed, the observed low asthma mortality in high-income countries reflects better access to health services and better treatment options following international asthma guidance.”

Asthma represented the most prevalent chronic respiratory disease in the world in 2015, affecting approximately 358 million people. Asthma contributed to twice the number of cases as COPD (174 million cases); however, COPD deaths were 8 times more common than deaths from asthma.

“COPD and asthma are important contributors to the burden of non-communicable disease. Although much of the burden is either preventable or treatable with affordable interventions, these diseases have received less attention than other prominent non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes,” the authors wrote.

The researchers insist that up-to-date information about these common diseases is necessary because for policy decision making to improve the access and quality of intervention strategies. Also, more population measurements should be conducted to quantify the problem and find other chronic conditions that are associated.

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