Respiratory disease

Chronic respiratory diseases are diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Two of the most common are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Smoking, the major cause of COPD, and air pollution are the two main modifiable risk factors amenable to public health interventions, while poor housing and fuel poverty (resulting in cold/damp houses) can also have an impact on lung health. Please also see our air quality and health interactive dashboard, available from the related information box on the right.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also had an impact on people's health. This is primarily due to later presentations with other symptoms, cancellations to appointments and longer waits to see specialists. Some people may also be reluctant to address concerns or attend GP practices due to fear of catching Covid-19. These missed diagnoses mean that treatment may be delayed or doesn't happen.

Coronavirus can cause permanent or long-term lung damage in those with no underlying conditions, as well as exacerbating issues in those with pre-existing lung diseases and other long-term conditions. While evidence suggests mitigating risk through promoting a healthy lifestyle, stopping smoking, and engaging with vaccination/booster programmes, these approaches may not be accessible or achievable for all, for many reasons. The full effects of the virus will likely be seen in future data releases. For current data on cases and deaths, please see the Government's Coronavirus page. 

Key findings

Prevalence and admissions

Where rates are stated, these are per 100,000 of the population. 

  • For 2022/23 an estimated 89,688 people aged 6+ years have asthma in Lancashire making the asthma prevalence (6+ years) 7.4% of the population, this is significantly above the England average of 6.5%.
  • Blackpool (7.9) and Blackburn with Darwen (7.8) also have asthma prevalence that is significantly higher than England.
  • The rates of admission for asthma in children (under-19-years) in Lancashire-12 (180.8), Blackburn with Darwen (272.7), and Blackpool (201.2) are significantly higher than England (122.2) (2022/23). Blackburn's rate is the 3rd highest in England.
  • The Lancashire-12 admissions for asthma rate for children aged 0-9 years is 245.4 and for those aged 10-18 years it is 115.9, both are worse than the England rate. Trend data show the former is seeing no significant change but the latter is declining in Lancashire-12.
  • COPD prevalence in Lancashire (2022/23) is significantly higher than for England being estimated at 2.3% compared with 1.8% for England. 29,380 people were recorded as having COPD on practice disease registers.
  • Blackpool (3.7%) and Blackburn with Darwen (2.1%) also have COPD prevalence that is significantly higher than England.
  • There were 3,795 emergency hospital admissions for COPD (persons, 35+ years) in 2019/20, giving a directly standardised rate of 494, which is significantly above England's rate (415). Both Blackpool (820) and Blackburn with Darwen (800) are also significantly higher.


Respiratory disease is one of the main causes of premature deaths and the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities' (OHID - formerly Public Health England) Public Health Profiles includes two indicators that measure premature mortality: under-75 mortality from respiratory disease, and under-75 mortality from respiratory disease considered preventable.[i]

The following findings relate to deaths from respiratory disease among people aged under-75 for the period 2022 unless otherwise stated. Rates are directly age standardised and are per 100,000 of the population.

  • There were a total of 455 deaths in the Lancashire-12 area, giving the county a rate of 38.1, which is significantly higher than England (30.7). Blackpool (76.4) and Blackburn with Darwen (60.4) are also significantly higher, Blackpool being the highest in the country and Blackburn with Darwen the 4th highest. 
  • Within the districts in Lancashire-12, Hyndburn (68.2). Burnley (52.8), and Rossendale (47.0) all had significantly higher mortality rates when compared with England. The remaining 9 districts were statistically similar.
  • For the 3 year period 2020-22 1,345 deaths among persons aged under 75 occurred (rate of 37.6 which is significantly worse than England's 28.9), over half (765) of these deaths were considered preventable. Lancashire-12's rate of preventable mortality (21.3) is significantly higher than England's rate of 17.
  • Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen also have significantly higher rates of preventable mortality (37.2 and 31.4 respectively). The rate for the North West is statistically higher.
  • In the Lancashire-12 districts Hyndburn (35.4), Burnley (32.8), Pendle (27.0), Preston (26.3), and Lancaster (22.6) all had significantly higher preventable mortality rates than England.

The following findings relate to deaths from COPD among people of all ages for the period 2020-22. Rates are directly age standardised and are per 100,000 of the population. 

  • In Lancashire-12, 2,013 people died from COPD, giving the area a rate of 50.5, which is significantly worse than England (42.8). Blackpool (79.9) and Blackburn with Darwen (67.9) are also significantly worse. 
  • Looking at the district figures, Ribble Valley has a significantly lower mortality rate for COPD at 30.1, 4 districts were statistically similar to England whilst Burnley (77.4), Hyndburn (67.9), Preston (59.5), Rossendale (57.1), Pendle (56.4), Wyre (53.0), and Lancaster (49.2) were all significantly worse.

[i] Deaths are considered preventable if, in the light of the understanding of the determinants of health at the time of death, all or most deaths from the underlying cause (subject to age limits if appropriate) could potentially be avoided by public health interventions in the broadest sense.

OHID has updated its respiratory disease profile, which is an online tool showing data from a range of sources around respiratory diseases including COPD and asthma. 

For county, unitary and other data and further information please see below. Please note, not all indicators will be displayed at this current geographical level. To select the geography you are interested in, click on the down arrow next to 'area type'. To select the districts, choose 'Districts & UA'. 

Page updated May 2024