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), with the main modifiable risk factors including tobacco smoking and air pollution. Please also see our air quality and health interactive dashboard, available from the related information box on the right. 

Key findings - prevalence

Figures from the 2016/17 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicate that across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) area there are 119,573 (6.9%) persons with a confirmed asthma diagnosis and 43,799 (2.5%) with a confirmed diagnosis of COPD. Further analysis found that all eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) of the STP have a significantly higher level of asthma and COPD prevalence compared to England (5.9%, 1.9%).


Respiratory disease is one of the top causes of premature deaths. The Public Health Outcomes Framework includes two indicators that measure premature mortality: under-75 mortality rate from respiratory diseases; and under-75 mortality rate from respiratory diseases considered preventable (XLSX 80 KB).

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. Smoking is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is one of the major respiratory diseases.

The following findings relate to deaths from respiratory disease among people aged under-75 across the Lancashire-14 area for the period 2013 to 2015. Rates are directly age standardised per 100,000 population.

  • There were a total of 1,731 deaths (909 males and 822 females).
  • The death rate for Blackburn with Darwen (47.6), Blackpool (65.8) and Lancashire-12 (41.2) were statistically significantly higher than the average for England (33.1).
  • Among the 12 districts in the Lancashire-12 area, the death rate varies from 22.6 in Ribble Valley to 2.5 times higher (57.4) in Burnley and Hyndburn.
  • More than half (910 or 52.6%) of these deaths were considered preventable, although this proportion is higher for females (57.8%) compared to males (47.9%).
  • The preventable death rate for Blackburn with Darwen (24.5), Blackpool (38.1) and Lancashire-12 (21.4) were also statistically significantly higher than the average for England.
  • Among the 12 districts of the Lancashire-12 area, the preventable death rate varies from 10.4 in Fylde to more than 3 times higher (35.0) in Burnley.
  • From a baseline of 2001-03, the trend for Lancashire-12 and Blackburn with Darwen has been towards a slight but steady decline in death rates, in line with the North West and England as a whole. This decline has been less steep than that seen for cardiovascular disease, another major cause of premature death. However, in Blackpool  there was a steep increase in death rates for a number of periods from around 2005-07 – this appears to be accounted for most by female preventable deaths where the 2013-15 rate remains above the 2001-03 baseline.

Page updated November 2017