Asthma deaths in Northern Ireland highest in a decade

First published: 31 August 2016

The number of people dying from asthma in Northern Ireland is at its highest for a decade, new figures released today reveal.

The figures released by the Northern Ireland and Statistics Research Agency show that 44 people in Northern Ireland died from an asthma attack in 2015, the highest number of deaths since 2004*, with 36 women and8 men dying from the condition.

In Northern Ireland 182,000 people (1 in 10) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This includes 36,000 children and 146,000 adults.

Asthma UK’s Annual Asthma Care Survey 2015** revealed that seven out of 10 people in the UK with asthma aren’t receiving care that meets the most basic clinical standards proven to work. This includes having written asthma action plans, attending annual asthma reviews and inhaler technique checks, highlighting the urgent need for improved asthma care.

In 2014, the Royal College of Physicians highlighted that ‘complacency in asthma care must end’ in its National Review of Asthma Deaths.

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive at Asthma UK, said: “It is alarming that asthma deaths in Northern Ireland are now at their highest levels in a decade.  Three people die from asthma attacks every day, yet two thirds of these deaths could have been prevented with better basic care. Today’s figures are a stark call to the Northern Irish government to take rapid action to ensure effective care is in place for everyone with asthma and prevent more people dying unnecessarily from asthma attacks in the future.

“Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. This is why it is so vital that everyone with asthma attends a regular asthma review with their GP or asthma nurse and takes their asthma medication as prescribed. It is also essential that everyone has a written asthma action plan. This is because without one you are four times more likely to end up in hospital due to an asthma attack. Yet, despite this, only 35 per cent of people with asthma have one. Anyone without an asthma action plan should download one from Asthma UK’s website now.”

Asthma death figures for Northern Ireland (both children and adults)*:

Year

Deaths

2001

38

2002

35

2003

32

2004

44

2005

30

2006

35

2007

27

2008

30

2009

23

2010

34

2011

33

2012

31

2013

37

2014

30

2015

44

*Source - Northern Ireland and Statistics Research Agency. 

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Notes to editors:

For more information please contact the Asthma UK media team on mediaoffice@asthma.org.uk, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours). 

**Annual Asthma Care Survey 2015 - Adams et al. (2000) Factors associated with hospital admissions and repeat emergency department visits for adults with asthma. Thorax, 55:566-573

About Asthma UK

  • 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