Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Observations on recent increase in mortality from asthma.

Br Med J 1968; 1 doi: (Published 10 February 1968) Cite this as: Br Med J 1968;1:335
  1. F. E. Speizer,
  2. R. Doll,
  3. P. Heaf


    The mortality attributed to asthma has increased annually in England and Wales from 1960 to 1965. The increase is more pronounced at ages 5 to 34 years than at older ages and is most pronounced at ages 10 to 14 years. In this last age group the mortality increased nearly eight times in seven years, and in 1966 asthma accounted for 7% of all deaths. No comparable increase has been observed in any other country, but smaller increases at ages 10 to 19 years have been observed in Australasia, Japan, western Europe, and the United States. There is no evidence to suggest that there has been any change in diagnostic habits, certification of deaths, or methods of classification which could account for the increase in Great Britain, and it is concluded that the increase is real. General practitioners' records provide no evidence of an increase in prevalence and it seems probable that there has been an increase in case fatality. No environmental hazards are known which could have increased the severity of the disease, and the possibility has to be considered that the increase may be due to new methods of treatment. Corticosteroids have been used increasingly since 1952, and in Great Britain the use of pressurized aerosols containing sympathomimetics has increased rapidly since 1960.