India accounts for a quarter of deaths caused worldwide by the two most chronic respiratory diseases, COPD and asthma, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study. Of 32 lakh deaths caused in 2015 by COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 8 lakh happened in India. Of 4 lakh deaths caused by asthma, 1 lakh were in India, according to the study, published Thursday in Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal.
The study has found that the disease burden due to COPD was highest in Papua New Guinea, India, Lesotho, and Nepal while the burden for asthma was highest in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Fiji, Kiribati, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.
The GBD study analyses data for over 300 diseases for 188 countries from 1990 to the most recent year. “The GBD report in 2012 had shown that COPD had become the third leading cause of death in the world,” said Dr Sundeep Salvi, chair of Chronic Respiratory Diseases section of the GBD-India Chapter, and head the Chest Research Foundation in Pune. “Globally there were 2.8 million deaths due to COPD and India and China contributed 65 per cent. India had 69 million deaths due to COPD then.”
A couple of years ago, Salvi started spirometry-based COPD prevalence studies in Pune, Mumbai, Kashmir and Mysore. The GBD study bases its data from published studies and largely referred to these studies from India. “These studies were among the first ones that used spirometry as the fundamental tool to define and stage COPD and, accordingly, establish population prevalence in surveys,” Salvi said.
“Up-to-date information on COPD and asthma is key to policy making to improve access to and quality of existing interventions,” said lead author Theo Vos, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington.
COPD is a group of lung conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that cause breathing difficulties. The condition is largely caused by smoking and air pollution. The study finds that asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease worldwide, with twice the number of cases as COPD in 2015, but deaths from COPD were eight times more common than deaths from asthma.
Many cases of asthma and COPD can be treated or prevented with affordable interventions, but people often go undiagnosed or undertreated, the study notes. The number of deaths from COPD increased by 11.6% between 1990 and 2015.