Part of: Ill Health and Disability

Related to: Air Quality, Asthma, [[Health Checks]], Major Causes of Mortality, Smoking

Key Facts:

  • There are 2,693 (2012/13 financial year) people registered with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in GP practises in Bath and North East Somerset.
  • The rate of COPD in Bath and North East Somerset is significantly lower than the South West and England.
  • The prevalence increases with age, with an estimated prevalence of 10% in men older than 75.
  • premature deaths (in terms of potential years of life lost) from chronic lower respiratory diseases is significantly lower in B&NES compared to the national average.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways, this is called airflow obstruction. Typical symptoms of COPD include:increasing breathlessness when active, a persistent cough with phlegm and frequent chest infections.

The main cause of COPD is smoking. The likelihood of developing COPD increases the more you smoke and the longer you've been smoking. This is because smoking irritates and inflames the lungs, which results in scarring. Over many years, the inflammation leads to permanent changes in the lung. Damage to the delicate walls of the air sacs in the lungs causes emphysema and the lungs lose their normal elasticity. The smaller airways also become scarred and narrowed. Some cases of COPD are caused by fumes, dust, air pollution and genetic disorders, but these are rarer. 1

What does the data says?

COPD is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the UK. It usually affects people over the age of 35, although most people are not diagnosed until they are in their fifties. 2

It is thought there are over 3 million people living with the disease in the UK, of which only about 900,000 have been diagnosed. Thus, an estimated two million people have COPD which remains undiagnosed. This is because many people who develop symptoms of COPD do not get medical help because they often dismiss their symptoms as a ‘smoker’s cough’. 3

The rate of COPD in the population is estimated at between 2% and 4%. 4

COPD affects more men than women, although rates in women are increasing. 5

The prevalence increases with age, with an estimated prevalence of 10% in men older than 75. 6

COPD is closely associated with levels of deprivation - rates of COPD are higher in more deprived communities. 7

COPD causes about 25,000 deaths a year in the UK. 8

Bath and North East Somerset

There are 2,693 (2012/13 financial year) people registered with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in GP practises in Bath and North East Somerset.* 9

The prevalence rate of COPD  in B&NES has been increasing, from 1.2% in 2008/09 to 1.4% in 2012/13 (financial year).* 10

The prevalence rate of COPD in B&NES is significantly lower than England which has had prevalence rates that have increased from 1.5% in 2008/ 09 to 1.7% in 2011-2013 (financial years) .* 11

chronic_obstructive_pulmonary_disease_rates_of_bnes_and_england_gp_populations_2008-13

Figure 1: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease prevalence in B&NES and England GP registered populations (2008/09 – 2012/13 financial years) 12

*It is important to note that the above rates are based on the GP registered population of Bath and North East Somerset and so some of these people may not be residents of Bath North East Somerset. Nevertheless, the vast majority of people will be registered with a GP in their county of residence.

For more up to date prevalence figures for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease recorded as part of the NHS Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), see the Ill Health and Disability section. 

The observed rates for COPD in Bath & North East Somerset is 65% of the estimated rates. This compares to 56% for England. 13

In terms of potential Years of Life Lost (YLL), B&NES CCG has a significantly lower rate of annual years of life lost to chronic lower respiratory diseases compared to the comparable rate for England - see Major Causes of Mortality (Premature Mortality) for further information.

Gender

The estimated prevalence rate of COPD amongst all males 16 years and over in Bath and North East Somerset is 3.1%, and 1.8% for females 16 years and over. These are lower than the estimated prevalence rates for both the South West (4.4% males 16yrs+, 2.4% females16yrs+) and England (4.5% males16yrs+, 2.8% females16yrs+). 14

Age

The estimated prevalence rates of COPD amongst the following age groups in Bath and North East Somerset are all below those of the South West and England and they are as follows:

  • 16-44 years old- 0.8% (1.1% South West, 1.3% England)
  • 45-64 years old- 2.8% (3.6% South West, 4.2% England)
  • 65-74 years old- 5.6% (7.1% South West, 8.3% England)
  • 75+ years old- 6.1% (7.7% South West, 8.9% England) 15

Ethnicity

The estimated prevalence rates of COPD amongst the following ethnicity groups in Bath and North East Somerset are all below those of the South West and England and are as follows:

  • White (including mixed and other)- 2.5% (3.4% South West, 3.7% England)
  • Black- 2.1% (3.0% South West, 4.1% England)
  • Asian- 0.9% (1.8% South West, 2.3% England) 16

What can we realistically change?

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)(2011-2013) guidance