Mortality from all respiratory diseases, with the exception of lung cancer, was higher compared with 14 countries in the European Union and Norway, Canada, Australia and the United States, according to an analysis of data from the World Health Organization.
According to the analysis published on Wednesday in the BMJ, the overall death rate from respiratory diseases is decreasing in all these countries from 1985 to 2015. During this period, mortality among men was reduced, but for women it remained about the same.
Respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease known as COPD are classified as amenable diseases., says Dr. Justin Salchiccioli, a permanent and clinical researcher at Harvard Medical School and lead analyst. “The urgency of this is that with effective, timely and appropriate medical care, these deaths should be avoided,” he added.
An international research team led by Salciccioli goes beyond previous research because it is considering whether these trends persist for a longer period and a wider category of diseases.
In the UK, mortality from respiratory diseases from 1985 to 2015 decreased from 151 per 100,000 men to 89; for women, the results went from 67 to 68 per 100,000, according to a new study.
In other studied countries, male mortality decreased from 108 to 69 per 100,000 during this period; rates for women ranged from 35 to 37 per 100,000.
Salciccioli described national comparisons as “big difference.”
“This is one of the main reasons why we pursued this issue,” he added.
It seems that this difference affects a wider category of diseases that affect the lungs in general, according to Salciccioli.
“The reason for concern would be that this is a difference, which over time remains larger than the absolute difference,” he said.
Salciccioli explained that in terms of deaths in men with lung cancer, the United Kingdom is “as good, if not the best,” like most comparators.
The study shows an observational trend and cannot determine why there is a difference in mortality rates, but it is possible that lifestyle factors, such as smoking, play a role, said Salcicci.
Salciccioli hopes that the study will lead to a better understanding of what underlies the differences between British mortality rates and other countries.
Previous studies have shown that a high level of tobacco use in the UK may be due to differences in mortality from respiratory diseases. The study suggests a decrease in the level of smoking in the UK.
All countries studied showed a decrease in male mortality from respiratory diseases, but no signs of a decrease in female indicators. Salciccioli believes that this is due to "smoking": men have historically higher rates of smoking, and there have been significant improvements in their reduction. Salciccioli is not sure that smoking was reduced among women as much as men.
“These numbers are sad, but they are not surprising,” said Dr. Penny Woods, executive director of the British Lungs Foundation, who did not participate in the study. "We know that lung disease is the third largest killer in the UK after cancer and heart disease."