First published: 13 July 2016
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed new data today which shows an increase in the number of asthma related deaths in England and Wales in 2015.
The annual death rate statistics show that 1,302 asthma deaths were recorded, which is a 17% increase in the number of asthma related deaths since 2014. The figures also show the highest number of deaths due to asthma in over ten years.
The statistics are presented by sex, age and area of residence and show that women aged 65 or over make up nearly 56% of all asthma deaths registered in 2015.
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said: “Every ten seconds someone in the UK has a potentially life threatening asthma attack. Tragically the statistics released by the Office for National Statistics today reveal the highest number of deaths due to asthma we have seen in ten years.
“It’s really alarming that over half of those deaths were women aged 65 or over. It is becoming increasingly clear that there are different sub-types of asthma but, in contrast to childhood asthma, we know far less about asthma that affects older adults. What we do know is that it doesn’t tend to get better, that it is usually more serious and severe than asthma in children, and that treatment options are extremely limited. This means we desperately need greater investment in research to find new treatments for this type of asthma to alleviate the distress and suffering that are associated with it.
“Older people must take their asthma seriously as there is a risk that asthma falls off the priority list when there are lots of others things to consider - especially if they also have multiple other long term medical conditions.
“It is really important for older people with asthma to get their flu jabs, go for their annual asthma review, have an asthma action plan agreed with their GP or practice nurse and take their medication as prescribed.”
Vicki Shenton, age 60, from Market Drayton, was diagnosed with late onset asthma in her 50s, said: “About five years ago on a late summer's day, I was helping one of my daughters pack a suitcase when I suddenly started to wheeze. It came on completely out of the blue. I didn't know what was happening until my daughter said, 'Mum, I think you're having an asthma attack'. She has asthma and luckily had her reliever inhaler with her. I had a couple of puffs and it relieved the symptoms straight away.
“I made an appointment with my GP the following day and she diagnosed late onset asthma. I was given two inhalers a preventer and a reliever. It was a shock to be diagnosed with a chronic condition, especially one I'd only ever associated with children and young adults. Stress has recently become a trigger for me, as well as cold weather. I have an asthma review with my GP practice every six months and am currently waiting for a referral to the asthma team at the hospital to consider my treatment options."
For further information on asthma visit: www.asthma.org.uk or call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 to speak to an expert asthma nurse.
For more information please contact the Asthma UK media team on firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).
Asthma deaths in England and Wales since 2003:
- Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.
- Asthma UK is solely funded by public donations
- The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
- For more information about asthma please visit www.asthma.org.uk
Background information on asthma
- In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
- The UK has one of the highest prevalence rates for asthma in Europe, according to the ERS Whitebook.
- The UK has some of the highest asthma death rates in Western Europe according to the Death rates (all ages) for OECD nations and the World Health Organisation
- Three people die every day because of asthma; based on mortality data from Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England & Wales, General Register Office for Scotland, and Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (Northern Ireland). 1255 people died from asthma in 2013 – divided by 365, this works out as 3.4 people per day.
- Tragically, the National Review of Asthma Deaths found that two thirdsof asthma deaths are preventable with good, basic care.
- 7 out of 10 people with asthma do not receive care that meets the most basic clinical standards.