Research Article

Is the death rate from asthma exaggerated? Evidence from west Cumbria.

BMJ 1993; 306 doi: (Published 16 January 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;306:193
  1. W T Berrill
  1. West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, Cumbria.


    Although the death rate from asthma in England and Wales is reported to be about 2000 a year, clinical experience suggests that it is much rarer. Doctors in West Cumbria health district could recall only seven cases in 14 years. Examination of case notes of patients officially recorded as dying of asthma showed that many were aged over 60 and cigarette smokers. An alternative cause of death was evident in over half the patients. If the picture is representative of that in the whole of Britain the reported mortality from asthma may be much too high.