Asthma deaths at highest level in a decade
DEATHS for asthma are at their highest level in 10 years, figures show.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded 1,302 deaths with asthma as the primary cause in 2015, a 17 per cent jump on the figure for 2014.
Women aged 65 or over made up nearly 56 per cent of all asthma deaths registered in England and Wales, according to the charity Asthma UK, which analysed the figures.
Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, said: "Every 10 seconds someone in the UK has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. Tragically the statistics released by the Office for National Statistics today reveal the highest number of deaths due to asthma we have seen in 10 years.
"It's really alarming that over half of those deaths were women aged 65 or over. It is becoming increasingly clear that there are different sub-types of asthma but, in contrast to childhood asthma, we know far less about asthma that affects older adults.
"What we do know is that it doesn't tend to get better, that it is usually more serious and severe than asthma in children, and that treatment options are extremely limited.
"This means we desperately need greater investment in research to find new treatments for this type of asthma to alleviate the distress and suffering that are associated with it."
Overall, the number of deaths recorded in 2015 rose to 602,782 (up 5.7 per cent compared with 2014), with experts reiterating their view that flu was behind part of the rise.
The flu virus in 2015 was a strain known to predominantly affect older people.
Cancer accounted for 28 per cent of all deaths registered in 2015 while circulatory diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, accounted for just over a quarter (26 per cent) of all deaths.