COPD: mortality rates falling but number of deaths rising


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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While mortality rates for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have fallen in most countries, the total number of COPD deaths increased in many over the past 20 years, according to a new international analysis published in the European Respiratory Journal.

The study extracted data from the World Health Organization (WHO) mortality database between 1995 and 2017, using ICD-10 codes for chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other COPD. In total, close to 3.36 million COPD deaths in 24 countries were analysed.

The data revealed that, with few exceptions (mainly among European women), COPD mortality rates have been declining. In some countries, this decline has been substantial. For example, mortality rates halved in both sexes over a 15-year period in Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan and Lithuania. However, COPD death counts increased in almost half and remained stable in a quarter of the studied countries.

Assessing changes in the absolute number of deaths between 2000 and 2015, the number of COPD deaths increased by >10 per cent in 11 countries, particularly in Latin America, North America, Eastern and Southern Europe, decreased by >10 per cent in six countries, and remained relatively stable in the other seven countries.