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 2021/22 88,153 people aged 6+ years has asthma, the asthma prevalence (6+ years) in Lancashire is 7.4% of the population, this is higher than the England rate of 6.5%.
  • The rates of admission for asthma in children (under-19-years) in Lancashire-12 (175.6), Blackburn with Darwen (202.6), and Blackpool (205.3) are significantly higher than England (131.5) (2021/22).
  • The admissions for asthma rate for children aged 0-9 years is at 242.3 and for those aged 10-18 years it is 107.1, both are worse than the England rate.
  • COPD prevalence in Lancashire (21/22) is higher than for England (2.4% vs 1.9% of the population), 29,851 people were recorded as having COPD on practice disease registers.
  • 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 2021. Rates are directly age standardised and are per 100,000 of the population.

  • There were a total of 388 deaths in the Lancashire-12 area, giving the county a rate of 32.3, which is significantly higher than England (26.5). Blackpool (63.1) and Blackburn with Darwen (45.7) are also significantly higher. 
  • Over half (211) of these deaths were considered preventable, with Lancashire-12's rate (17.5) being similar to England's rate (15.6). Blackpool (32.9) and Blackburn with Darwen (29.1) are significantly higher.  

The following findings relate to deaths from COPD among people of all ages for the period 2021. Rates are directly age standardised and are per 100,000 of the population. 

  • In Lancashire-12, 605 people died from COPD, giving the area a rate of 45.8, which is significantly worse than England (39.8). Blackpool (70.9) and Blackburn with Darwen (70.1) are also significantly worse. 
  • Looking at the district figures, West Lancs was significantly better than England (28.5) whilst Burnley (74.1), Rossendale (57.3) and Wyre (55.8) 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 INteractive Health Atlas of Lung conditions in England (Inhale), 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 June 2023