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Lung disease in the UK – big picture statistics

These statistics on lung disease in the UK were compiled as part of our Respiratory Health of the Nation project by teams at St George’s University of London, Nottingham University and Imperial College London.

Numbers of people in the UK living with lung disease

Surveys of the general population suggest that approximately 12.7 million people in the UK (approximately 1 in 5) have a history of asthma, COPD or another longstanding respiratory illness. Half of these (about 6.5 million people) report taking prescribed medication for lung disease in the last year.

Estimates based on general practice records suggest that 8 million people have been diagnosed with asthma, 1.2 million with COPD, and over 150,000 with interstitial lung diseases (pulmonary fibrosis or sarcoidosis), with numbers generally similar for males and females.

From GP records, an estimated 86,000 people in the UK have ever been diagnosed with lung cancer, and over 5,000 (mainly men) have ever been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Numbers of people with lung disease in 2012

  Estimated numbers of people alive in the UK on 1 January 2013 with a diagnosis of lung disease at any time in the past
  Asthma Bronchiectasis COPD IPF Lung cancer Mesothelioma OSA Sarcoidosis
Overall 8,028,741 211,598 1,201,685 32,479 85,796 5,419 201,411 107,824
                 
Male 3,873,724 88,993 627,019 19,450 45,329 4,255 152,074 52,514
Female 4,155,017 122,606 574,666 13,028 40,467 1,164 49,337 55,310

Numbers of people in the UK who developed lung disease in 2012

Estimates based on general practice records suggest that in 2012 there were about 160,000 new cases of asthma, with numbers slightly higher among females than males, and over 110,000 people who developed COPD, with more males than females. There were about 10,000 new cases of  pulmonary fibrosis and 4,500 of sarcoidosis.

According to GP statistics there are over 32,000 new cases of lung cancer and over 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma annually. However, these are likely to underestimate the true incidence of cancer, because the diagnosis may be made in hospital during terminal illness, or post-mortem.

According to cancer registration statistics, during 2011, there were 43,463 new cases of lung cancer (23,770 among males and 19,693 among females), and 2,570 new cases of mesothelioma (2,172 among males and 398 among females). 

Numbers of people who developed lung disease in 2012

  Estimated numbers of people first diagnosed in 2012
  Asthma Bronchiectasis COPD IPF Lung cancer Mesothelioma OSA Sarcoidosis
Overall 160,090 19,177 114,219 7,865 32,226 2,319 18,998 4,579
                 
Male 75,378 8,322 61,448 4,968 17,168 1,892 13,810 2,175
Female 84,712 10,855 52,771 2,897 15,058 427 5,187 2,404

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Numbers of people who die from lung disease

Lung diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the UK

During 2008-12, lung diseases were responsible for 20% of all deaths in the UK each year. In 2012, there were 114,225 deaths from lung diseases compared to 158,383 from cardiovascular diseases. However, over the 5-year period 2008–12, the proportion of deaths from cardiovascular diseases declined, whereas the proportion due to lung diseases remained constant.

UK deaths by cause, all ages (>28 days), 2008–12

  Numbers of deaths and % of all deaths
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
All causes, all ages 577,398   557,366   559,518   550,029   566,924  
Lung diseases 115,928 20% 111,775 20% 110,961 20% 110,921 20% 114,225 20%
Cardiovascular diseases 184,518 32% 177,282 32% 175,320 31% 156,745 28% 158,383 28%
Non-respiratory cancers 121,319 21% 120,678 22% 123,943 22% 125,521 23% 127,968 23%
Other diseases 155,633 27% 147,631 26% 149,294 27% 156,842 29% 166,348 29%
                     
Respiratory deaths 115,928   111,775   110,961   110,921   114,225  
Lung cancer 35,333 6.1% 35,071 6.3% 34,941 6.2% 35,238 6.4% 35,419 6.2%
COPD 28,344 4.9% 26,843 4.8% 27,164 4.9% 28,084 5.1% 29,776 5.3%
Pneumonia 32,282 5.6% 29,909 5.4% 28,405 5.1% 28,381 5.2% 28,952 5.1%
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 3,964 0.7% 3,977 0.7% 4,323 0.8% 4,992 0.9% 5,292 0.9%
Lung diseases due to external agents 3,728 0.6% 3,466 0.6% 3,751 0.7% 3,756 0.7% 4,171 0.7%
Pleural mesothelioma 2,160 0.4% 2,293 0.4% 2,291 0.4% 2,312 0.4% 2,431 0.4%
Pulmonary embolism 3,335 0.6% 3,228 0.6% 3,245 0.6% 2,282 0.4% 2,275 0.4%
Acute lower respiratory infections 2,911 0.5% 2,879 0.5% 2,917 0.5% 1,516 0.3% 1,589 0.3%
Bronchiectasis 1,150 0.2% 1,214 0.2% 1,218 0.2% 1,332 0.2% 1,567 0.3%
Asthma 1,205 0.2% 1,134 0.2% 1,147 0.2% 1,168 0.2% 1,246 0.2%
Other pulmonary vascular diseases 525 <0.1% 523 <0.1% 512 <0.1% 543 0.1% 594 0.1%
Respiratory TB 381 <0.1% 352 <0.1% 316 <0.1% 293 <0.1% 282 <0.1%
Sarcoidosis 137 <0.1% 148 <0.1% 149 <0.1% 159 <0.1% 170 <0.1%
Acute respiratory failure 160 <0.1% 148 <0.1% 126 <0.1% 149 <0.1% 127 <0.1%
Perinatal and congenital conditions 140 <0.1% 142 <0.1% 148 <0.1% 102 <0.1% 119 <0.1%
Cystic fibrosis 122 <0.1% 147 <0.1% 107 <0.1% 116 <0.1% 111 <0.1%
Influenza 51 <0.1% 301 <0.1% 201 <0.1% 498 <0.1% 104 <0.1%

Over half of the deaths from lung disease in the UK are due to lung cancer and COPD. Both conditions are strongly linked to tobacco smoking, which is also a risk factor for pneumonia, another leading cause of death.

In 2012, 6.2% of all UK deaths were due to lung cancer, 5.3% to COPD and 5.1% to pneumonia.

UK deaths from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2012

UK deaths from lung diseases, 2012

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Male and female deaths from lung disease

In 2012, 57,621 males and 56,604 females died from lung disease.

Of the 35,419 people who died from lung cancer, 19,333 were males and 16,086 were females.

The picture was similar for COPD. Of the 29,776 who died, 15,245 were males and 14,531 were females.

However, with pneumonia, of the 28,952 who died, 16,713 were females and 12,239 were males.

UK deaths by cause and gender, all ages (>28 days), 2012

  All ages >28 days,
males and females
All ages,
males
All ages,
females
  Number of deaths % of all deaths Number of deaths % of all
male deaths
Number of deaths % of all
female deaths
All causes 566,924   272,151   294,773  
All respiratory 114,225 20% 57,621 21% 56,604 19%
Cardiovascular 158,383 28% 78,001 29% 80,382 27%
Non-respiratory cancers 127,968 23% 65,693 24% 62,275 21%
Other causes 166,348 29% 70,836 26% 95,512 32%
             
Respiratory deaths 114,225   57,621   56,604  
Lung cancer 35,419 6.2% 19,333 7.1% 16,086 5.5%
COPD 29,776 5.3% 15,245 5.6% 14,531 4.9%
Pneumonia 28,952 5.1% 12,239 4.5% 16,713 5.7%
Pulmonary fibrosis 5,292 0.9% 3,193 1.2% 2,099 0.7%
Lung diseases due to external agents 4,171 0.7% 2,393 0.9% 1,778 0.6%
Pleural mesothelioma 2,431 0.4% 2,035 0.7% 396 0.1%
Pulmonary embolism 2,275 0.4% 835 0.3% 1,440 0.5%
Acute lower respiratory infections 1,589 0.3% 619 0.2% 970 0.3%
Bronchiectasis 1,567 0.3% 661 0.2% 906 0.3%
Asthma 1,246 0.2% 358 0.1% 888 0.3%
Other pulmonary vascular diseases 594 0.1% 214 0.1% 380 0.1%
Respiratory TB 282 <0.1% 177 <0.1% 105 <0.1%
Sarcoidosis 170 <0.1% 83 <0.1% 87 <0.1%
Acute respiratory failure 127 <0.1% 62 <0.1% 65 <0.1%
Perinatal and congenital respiratory conditions 119 <0.1% 74 <0.1% 45 <0.1%
Cystic fibrosis 111 <0.1% 54 <0.1% 57 <0.1%
Influenza 104 <0.1% 46 <0.1% 58 <0.1%

UK male deaths from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2012

UK male deaths from lung diseases, 2012

UK female deaths from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2012

UK female deaths from lung diseases, 2012

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Ages of people who die from lung disease

The number of deaths from lung disease varies greatly according to age. The lowest numbers of deaths are among those aged 0–14 years and the highest among those aged over 65.

UK deaths (>28 days) by cause and age group, 2012

  All ages >28 days,
males and females
Children 0-14 yrs, males and females Younger adults 15-64 yrs, males and females Older adults 65+ yrs, males and females
  Number of deaths % of all deaths Number of deaths % of all
0-14 deaths
Number of deaths % of all
15-64 deaths
Number of deaths % of all
65+ deaths
All causes 566,924   2,435   87,979   476,510  
Lung diseases 114,225 20% 262 11% 13,739 16% 100,224 21%
Cardiovascular diseases 158,383 28% 102 4% 17,542 20% 140,739 30%
Non-respiratory cancers 127,968 23% 278 11% 27,628 31% 100,062 21%
Other diseases 166,348 29% 1,793 74% 29,070 33% 135,485 28%
                 
Lung diseases (ordered by number of deaths) 114,225   262   13,739   100,224  
Lung cancer 35,419 6.2% -   7,366 8.4% 28,053 5.9%
COPD 29,776 5.3% 1 < 0.05% 2,719 3.1% 27,056 5.7%
Pneumonia 28,952 5.1% 58 2.4% 1,374 1.6% 27,520 5.8%
Pulmonary fibrosis 5,292 0.9% 3 0.1% 475 0.5% 4,814 1.0%
Lung diseases due to external agents 4,171 0.7% 5 0.2% 320 0.4% 3,846 0.8%
Pleural mesothelioma 2,431 0.4% -   340 0.4% 2,091 0.4%
Pulmonary embolism 2,275 0.4% 1 < 0.05% 358 0.4% 1,916 0.4%
Acute lower respiratory infections 1,589 0.3% 25 1.0% 59 <0.1% 1,505 0.3%
Bronchiectasis 1,567 0.3% -   123 0.1% 1,444 0.3%
Asthma 1,246 0.2% 21 0.9% 204 0.2% 1,021 0.2%
Other pulmonary vascular diseases 594 0.1% 13 0.5% 114 0.1% 467 0.1%
Respiratory TB 282 < 0.05% -   65 0.1% 217 < 0.05%
Sarcoidosis 170 < 0.05% -   76 0.1% 94 < 0.05%
Acute respiratory failure 127 < 0.05% 1 < 0.05% 22 < 0.05% 104 < 0.05%
Perinatal and congenital respiratory conditions 119 < 0.05% 115 4.7% 4 < 0.05% 0 0.0%
Cystic fibrosis 111 < 0.05% 4 0.2% 105 0.1% 2 < 0.05%
Influenza 104 < 0.05% 15 0.6% 15 < 0.05% 74 < 0.05%

 

 


Children aged 0–14 years

In 2012, there were 2,435 deaths in children aged 0−14 years. Of these, only 262 were due to lung diseases and 102 to cardiovascular disease. The majority of deaths (74 per cent) were from other causes. 

Of the 262 deaths from lung disease, 115 were the result of perinatal conditions (present in the time immediately before and after birth) and congenital respiratory conditions (present at birth, either inherited or caused by environmental factors). 

Large numbers of deaths in this age group were caused by pneumonia (58) and acute LRTI (25).

UK ages 0–14 years (>28 days) deaths from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2012

UK ages 0–14 years (>28 days) deaths from lung diseases, 2012


Adults aged 15−64 years

In 2012, in people aged 15–64 years, lung diseases caused 16 per cent of all deaths among the major disease groups. Cardiovascular disease was responsible for 20 per cent, non-respiratory for 31 per cent and other causes for 33 per cent. 

Of the 13,739 deaths from lung disease in this age group, lung cancer caused 8.4 per cent. 

Deaths from cystic fibrosis were higher in young adults (105 deaths) compared with children (four deaths) and people over 65 (two deaths).

UK deaths from lung disease in people aged 15–64, compared with other major disease groups, 2012

UK deaths from lung disease in people aged 15–64, 2012


Adults over 65 years

In 2012, 476,510 people over the age of 65 died. Of these, 100,224 died from lung disease – the highest number among all age groups.

In people over 65, among major disease groups, lung diseases cause 21 per cent of deaths and cardiovascular disease causes 30 per cent – higher figures than for any other age group

The number of deaths from pneumonia (27,520) and COPD (27,056) were high in this age group compared with others. 

There were 28,053 deaths from lung cancer among people over 65. However, the proportion of lung cancer deaths in this age group (5.9 per cent) is lower than the proportion for young adults (8.4 per cent).

UK deaths from lung disease in people aged 65 and above, compared with other major disease groups, 2012

UK deaths from lung disease in people aged 65 and above, 2012

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Regional variation in the risk of dying from lung disease

Death rates from lung disease vary across the UK

Death rates are affected by a number of factors:

  • Population structure 
  • Whether people live in urban or rural settings
  • Standards of living
  • The numbers who smoke
  • Exposure through work to the causes of some lung diseases
  • Air pollution levels

Relative risk of death from any lung disease, by local authority district (England, Scotland and Wales), 2008–12

© Copyright info

Relative risk is used to compare risk in different groups of people. In medical research, all sorts of groups are compared to others to see whether belonging to one group or other puts you at greater risk of something. In this instance, relative risk has been used to see how people’s risk of dying from any lung disease varies according to where they live in England, Scotland and Wales.

You can find out how these figures were calculated.

Download relative risk data for London (Excel, 17KB)


Deaths from lung disease in the UK compared with other countries

To get a sense of how the picture for lung disease in the UK compares to the rest of the world, the researchers involved in the Respiratory Health of the Nation project looked at figures for respiratory disease in 99 other countries.

Figures were available for the following conditions:

They found that more than half of the deaths from lung disease in Europe, and at least a quarter of all hospital admissions for respiratory conditions, are due to diseases caused by smoking.

Strikingly, the UK is in the top 20 countries for both lung cancer and COPD deaths and admissions.

FInd out how these figures were calculated.


Burden on health services

Hospital admissions and bed-days due to lung disease

Lung diseases place a heavy burden on health services. One way of attempting to measure the scale of this burden is to calculate the number of hospital admissions and bed-days due to lung disease. 

However, it should be noted that these figures are really only the tip of the iceberg. Because of the nature of conditions such as asthma and COPD, many patients are managed in the community and are never admitted to hospital because of their lung condition. 

In 2011, there were 694,000 hospital admissions for lung diseases in the UK – 8 per cent of all admissions, similar to cardiovascular disease at 9 per cent.

There were 6,120,400 bed-days due to lung disease – 10 per cent of all bed-days, compared to 12 per cent for cardiovascular disease.

Hospital admissions and bed-days, UK 2011

  Admissions Bed-days
  All ages, males and females combined % of all hospital admissions All ages, males & females combined % of all inpatient bed-days
All causes 8,423,780 100% 61,749,654 100%
Lung diseases 703,116 8% 6,167,509 10%
Cardiovascular diseases 769,774 9% 7,391,348 12%
Non-lung cancers 511,182 6% 4,161,822 7%
Other diseases 6,439,708 76% 44,028,975 71%
         
Lung diseases 703,116 8.3% 6,167,509 10.0%
Pneumonia 204,798 2.4% 2,346,324 3.8%
COPD 141,284 1.7% 1,044,629 1.7%
Acute lower respiratory infections 121,326 1.4% 792,583 1.3%
Asthma 59,014 0.7% 200,629 0.3%
Lung cancer 44,800 0.5% 465,323 0.8%
Pulmonary embolism 27,560 0.3% 254,058 0.5%
Perinatal and congenital respiratory conditions 25,359 0.3% 185,334 0.3%
Lung diseases due to external agents 18,263 0.2% 314,374 0.5%
Influenza 9,804 0.1% 74,898 0.1%
Cystic fibrosis 9,541 0.1% 102,152 0.2%
Pneumothorax 9,211 0.1% 64,352 0.1%
Pulmonary fibrosis 8,826 0.1% 85,860 0.1%
Bronchiectasis 8,487 0.1% 88,198 0.1%
Other pulmonary vascular diseases 3,791 < 0.05% 30,756 < 0.05%
Pleural mesothelioma 3,740 < 0.05% 30,884 0.1%
Acute respiratory failure 3,345 < 0.05% 33,874 0.1%
Respiratory tuberculosis 2,707 < 0.05% 43,957 0.1%
Sarcoidosis 1,260 < 0.05% 9,324 < 0.05%

UK hospital admissions from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK hospital admissions from lung diseases, 2011

UK bed-days from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK bed-days from lung diseases, 2011

In 2011, the greatest numbers of hospital admissions for a lung disease were:

  • Pneumonia: 204,798
  • COPD/bronchiectasis: 149,771
  • Acute LRTI: 121,326 

In 2011, the greatest numbers of bed-days for a lung disease were:

  • Pneumonia: 2,346,324
  • COPD/bronchiectasis: 1,132,827
  • Acute LRTI: 792,583

In 2011 also, lung cancer was responsible for large numbers in both categories:

  • Admissions: 48,540
  • Bed-days: 496,207

These figures are unsurprising, given that research has shown that lung diseases associated with tobacco smoking – lung cancer and COPD – have the biggest impact on the health service.


Male and female hospital admissions and bed-days

In 2011, of the total hospital admissions for all major disease groups, at 10%, more males were admitted for a lung disease than females, at 7%. 

These figures are similar to those for cardiovascular disease: 12% for males and 7% for females. 

In the same year, of the total hospital admissions for all major disease groups, at 11%, there were more male bed-days for a lung disease than female bed-days, at 9%. 

These figures are similar to those for cardiovascular disease: 13% for males and 11% for females. 

In 2011, of the total hospital admissions for all major disease groups, figures for major individual lung diseases were:

  • Pneumonia: males 2.9%, females 2.1%
  • COPD: males 1.9%, females 1.5%
  • Lung cancer: males 0.8%, females 0.4%

The percentages of bed-days for pneumonia were higher than the percentages of admissions though still higher in males (4.1%) than females (3.6%).

For COPD, at 1.7%, the figure is slightly higher for females than males, at 1.8%. 

Asthma was responsible for 0.7% of the total hospital admissions for all major disease groups, with percentages similar for males and females.

However, at 0.4%, there were more female bed-days for asthma than for males, at 0.2%.

UK male hospital admissions from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK male hospital admissions from lung diseases, 2011

UK male bed-days from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK male bed-days from lung diseases, 2011

UK female hospital admissions from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK female hospital admissions from lung diseases, 2011

UK female bed-days from lung diseases compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK female bed-days from lung diseases, 2011


Age and hospital admissions and bed-days

How much people need to use health services varies very much according to age, with the very young and those over 65 generally needing them most.

Children aged 0−14 years

In 2011, of the total number of hospital admissions for all major disease groups, 9% were for lung disease in children aged 0–14 years.

In the same year, lung diseases accounted for 12% of all bed-days among children aged 0–14 years

By contrast, cardiovascular disease is much less common in this age group, at less than 1% of admissions and 1% of bed-days. 

The greatest number of bed-days in this age group were for congenital conditions (present at birth, either inherited or caused by environmental factors) and perinatal conditions (present in the time immediately before and after birth): 2.1% for admissions, and 4.8% for bed-days.

Acute lower respiratory tract infections were responsible for 3.5% of admissions and 3.3% of bed-days in this age group – a greater proportion when compared to admissions and bed-days for acute LRTI in the overall population.

UK hospital admissions for lung diseases in children aged 0–14 years, compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK hospital admissions for lung disease in children aged 0–14 years, 2011

UK bed-days for children aged 0–14 years with lung disease, compared with other major disease groups, 2011

Bed-days for children aged 0–14 years with lung disease, 2011


Adults aged 15−64 years

In the UK in 2011, lung diseases accounted for 5% of all hospital admissions and 5% of inpatient bed-days occupied by adults aged 15-64 years.

Pneumonia and COPD are the main lung diseases responsible for hospital admissions in this age group.

UK hospital admissions for people aged 15–64 years with lung disease, compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK hospital admissions for people aged 15–64 years with lung disease, 2011

UK bed-days for people aged 15–64 years with lung disease, compared with other major disease groups, 2011

UK bed-days for people aged 15–64 with lung disease, 2011


Adults over 65 years

In the UK in 2011, lung diseases accounted for 13% of all hospital admissions and 13% of inpatient bed-days occupied by adults aged over 65. This is a higher proportion than in younger age groups.

Pneumonia and COPD were responsible for most hospital admissions and bed-days in this age group.

Hospital admissions for people aged 65 and above with lung disease, compared with other major disease groups, 2011

Hospital admissions for people aged 65 and above with lung disease, 2011

Bed-days for people aged 65 and above with lung disease, compared with other major disease groups, 2011

Bed-days for people aged 65 and above with lung disease, 2011

You can find out how these figures were calculated .


Regional variations in hospital admissions and bed-days

Patterns for emergency hospital admissions vary across the UK, very much in keeping with variations in death rates.

Relative risk of emergency hospital admissions for any lung disease, by local authority district (England, Scotland and Wales), 2010

© Copyright info

Relative risk is used to compare risk in different groups of people. In medical research, all sorts of groups are compared to others to see whether belonging to one group or other puts you at greater risk of something. In this instance, relative risk has been used to see how people’s risk of being admitted to hospital for any lung disease varies according to where they live in England, Scotland and Wales.

You can find out how these figures were calculated.