According to a new report from Lancet Respiratory Medicine, deaths from COPD reached 3.2 million in 2015, and asthma deaths reached 400,000.
“Although much of the burden [from these illnesses] is either preventable or treatable with affordable interventions, these diseases have received less attention than other prominent non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes,” said report lead author Theo Vos, a professor at the University of Washington, in Seattle.
Smoking and air pollution are the leading causes of COPD, the study authors noted. The causes of asthma are less certain but are thought to include allergens and smoking.
Vos and his team said that, overall, the diseases have become less common and less deadly since 1990 when judged by rates. But absolute case numbers worldwide have gone up because there are more people in the world — and more elderly people, too.