UK asthma death rates among worst in Europe

UK asthma death rates among worst in Europe

New analysis from Asthma UK has revealed that the UK is one of the worst places in Europe for asthma death rates, with the number of deaths from an attack increasing by over 20% in five years.

Experts have suggested that the poor UK ranking for asthma death rates could be due to patients missing out on basic asthma care, as well as a lack of awareness about how serious it can be.

Asthma UK’s analysis of the most recent Europe-wide figures from 2011 to 2015 found that:

  • The rate of asthma deaths in the UK has increased by more than 20% in five years, with figures from 2015 showing 1,434 people died from an asthma attack;
  • The UK’s average asthma death rate over five years is worse than countries such as Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands – and it is almost 50% higher than the average death rate in the European Union;
  • Of 33 countries in Europe, only Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Spain, and Cyprus had worse asthma death rates than the UK from 2011 to 2015;
  • Like the UK, Spain and France have both seen an increase in asthma death rates; and Countries including Croatia, Bulgaria, Finland, and Austria saw a decline in asthma death rates, with Germany leading the way with an 11% drop from 2011 to 2015.

What are the factors?

Experts at Asthma UK have said that the UK’s poor death rate for asthma attacks may be due to the condition itself not being taken seriously enough, with previous research revealing one in six people in the UK are unsure if it can be fatal.

Lack of basic care in the UK could also be a contributing factor according to the charity, with 65% of people with the condition not receiving the basic care from professionals they are entitled to, which includes a yearly review and a check to see if the inhaler is being used properly.

Making improvements to care

Asthma UK has called the level of care ‘extremely worrying’, with the National Review of Asthma Deaths revealing that two thirds of deaths from the condition could be prevented with basic care.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, said: “It is truly shocking that so many people in the UK are dying from asthma attacks, and while other countries are improving, we are lagging behind.

“While we don’t know for sure why the UK is performing so poorly in preventing deaths from asthma, we think a lack of understanding could play a part.”

She added: “Asthma kills, and we are urging the NHS to invest in better frontline asthma services, for people with asthma to make sure they take their medication properly, and for healthcare professionals to take asthma seriously, diagnose asthma patients effectively, and treat them promptly.”

Source: Asthma UK

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