Poorer people in England are more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to low incomes and poor housing, researchers found.
A study of nearly 6,000 people with lung disease found that a patient’s socioeconomic background significantly affected their chances of survival.
The chronic condition affects more than 1.3 million people in the UK, but many more are believed to be unaware of the condition. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, persistent coughing in the chest (which produces phlegm) and shortness of breath.
A study by Asthma + Lung UK found that more than 75% of COPD patients reported not receiving basic treatment in 2020/2021.
Of the nearly 4,000 people who suffered two or more severe attacks a year, 55 per cent earned less than £20,000 a year and 13 per cent lived in a cold, damp home.
Research published in BMJ Open Respiratory Study It expands on previous studies that show poor people are five times more likely to die from COPD than wealthy patients.
The report states: “It is well established that austerity policies that have reduced social and health support have had a significant impact on the most vulnerable in society, particularly people living with long-term health conditions.”
It adds that poor people are “almost twice as likely” to be in the “frequently intensifying group”.
Professor Nick Hopkinson, medical director of Asthma + Lung UK, said: Guardian: “One of the impacts of inequality is that it affects some of the most vulnerable in society and increases the risk of dying from lung disease.
“COPD is one of the biggest health problems in the UK and one of the biggest causes of hospital admissions, so failing to tackle it is causing huge problems for the health and social care system.”
A significant link between smoking and COPD was also found, which, according to the team, highlights the urgency to meet the government’s smoke-free ambition by 2030.
The researchers suggest that a multi-agency approach at the national and local levels is needed to reduce structural inequalities and address the causes of COPD.
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