Respiratory disease death rates have soared

September 29, 2017 by Alan Mozes, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—The number of Americans who die from chronic respiratory diseases has skyrocketed over the past 35 years, led in large part by deaths from COPD, a new report indicates.

From 1980 through 2014, more than 4.6 million Americans died from a range of chronic respiratory illnesses, the researchers reported. While the risk was pegged at 41 deaths for every 100,000 people back in 1980, it rose to nearly 53 out of every 100,000 by 2014, representing a nearly 31 percent spike over 35 years.

And the dismal news continued in the new report.

Eighty-five percent of the deaths— 3.9 million people—were from chronic (COPD), which moved up in that period of time to become the third leading cause of death, ahead of stroke, in the United States.

Other chronic respiratory illnesses that saw dramatic increases included: particle-inhalation diseases, such as pneumoconiosis and ; asthma; and pulmonary sarcoidosis (a disease of inflammation and abnormal mass growth).

Lead investigator Laura Dwyer-Lindgren could not pinpoint the reasons for the dramatic rise, but noted, "both , and changes in mortality rates over time, differed considerably among counties for all different types of chronic respiratory diseases."

Dwyer-Lindgren is a researcher with the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The study team noted that, as of 2015, nearly 7 percent of all deaths in the United States are due to chronic respiratory illness.

To track risk trends by counties, the investigators analyzed death records and population figures that had been collected by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Human Mortality Database.

Residents of central Appalachia were found to face the highest risk of death from COPD and pneumoconiosis. Interstitial lung disease-related death risk was highest across the Southwest, northern Great Plains, New England and South Atlantic. Asthma posed the biggest risk in Georgia, South Carolina, and across the southern half of the Mississippi River. And risk from all other chronic respiratory illnesses was greatest in the South, across states from Mississippi to South Carolina.

But not all the news was bad.

The mortality rate for the respiratory illnesses actually peaked at more than 55 out of 100,000 in 2002, and then declined to nearly 53 by 2014. Dwyer-Lindgren said that may be due to the relatively recent—and ongoing—drop in rates.

"Tobacco smoking is a major contributor to chronic respiratory disease mortality," she said. "But there is often a substantial lag between initiating smoking and experiencing negative health outcomes, so the increase and peak in smoking prevalence that occurred decades ago were reflected in the increase and peak in chronic respiratory more recently," Dwyer-Lindgren explained.

"Continued efforts to reduce smoking by preventing initiation and promoting cessation are important to continue this trend," she added. "This is particularly true in regions where smoking prevalence remains high."

Dwyer-Lindgren and her colleagues reported their findings Sept. 26 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. David Mannino, co-author of an editorial accompanying the report in the journal, suggested that the current risk trend likely "reflects a number of factors, including historical and current smoking patterns, poverty, dietary factors, occupational exposures and other potential factors."

But, he added, "I think the good news is that, over the last 30 years or so, we have made great advances in understanding, preventing and treating . We have had some great successes. But [we] still have challenges that remain, and will need to be addressed going forward."

Mannino is director of the pulmonary epidemiology research laboratory with the department of preventive medicine and environmental health at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

Explore further: Large increase in rate of death from chronic respiratory diseases

More information: Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, MPH, researcher, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle; David M. Mannino, M.D., director, pulmonary epidemiology research laboratory, department of preventive medicine and environmental health, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Lexington, Ky.; Sept. 26, 2017, Journal of the American Medical Association

There's more about chronic respiratory disease at the World Health Organization.

Related Stories

Large increase in rate of death from chronic respiratory diseases

September 26, 2017
Between 1980 and 2014, the rate of death from chronic respiratory diseases, such as COPD, increased by nearly 30 percent overall in the U.S., although this trend varied by county, sex, and chronic respiratory disease type, ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

COPD deaths down for most Americans: CDC

September 8, 2016
(HealthDay)—Fewer Americans are dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but not black women and the middle-aged, a new government report shows.

CDC reveals top 5 causes of death

November 17, 2016
(HealthDay)—Heart disease tops the list of what's most likely to kill you or someone you love, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

American death rate from drugs, alcohol, and mental disorders nearly triples since 1980

December 13, 2016
More than 2,000 US counties witnessed increases of 200% or more in deaths related to substance abuse and mental disorders since 1980, including clusters of counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio with alarming surges ...

Substantial differences between US counties for death rates from ischemic heart disease, stroke

May 16, 2017
Although the absolute difference in U.S. county-level cardiovascular disease mortality rates have declined substantially over the past 35 years for both ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, large differences ...

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.