People with asthma must not be complacent this winter, charity warns

Today, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there were an estimated 23,200 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2018/19. More than 39% of all excess winter deaths were caused by respiratory diseases.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practicing GP, said:

“Today’s figures show the human cost of extreme hot and cold weather spells in England and Wales. It is alarming to see the number of deaths spiked on the 25th July, the day the highest temperature was recorded in the UK.

“But we know cold weather can be even more deadly for people with asthma. While, it is encouraging to see the number of excess winter deaths fall last winter, people with asthma must not be complacent. Flu and colds can put an estimated 4 million people with asthma at risk of a potentially fatal asthma attack*.

“If people with asthma don’t get their flu vaccine, they could be putting themselves at risk this winter.  People with asthma have the best chance of avoiding an asthma attack if they make sure they take their preventer inhaler (usually brown) as prescribed and keep their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them in case of an emergency. For information on how the flu vaccine can help people with asthma visit asthma.org.uk/flu.” 

Notes to Editors

*Between June-October 2019, Asthma UK surveyed 12,876 people with asthma through an online survey. Of those surveyed, 75% said that colds and flu were a trigger for their asthma. We applied 75% to the population of people with asthma in the UK (5.4million) to get a figure of 4 million.