In the United States, 8.3 percent of adults suffer from asthma, a chronic inflammation of the lungs that can cause breathing difficulties. Most cases can be controlled with medication, including the use of inhalers, and by avoiding pollen and other allergens. Deaths are relatively rare, with fatal asthma attacks occurring at the rate of 1.1 per 100,000 people.
In the UK, people with asthma don't seem to be faring as well. A report from the charity and advocacy group Asthma UK, highlighted by Konbini, found that a "truly shocking" number of people are dying from asthma attacks in Britain. Roughly 1400 people, or 2.21 per 100,000, died as a result of an asthma attack in 2015, a number that has been increasing by 20 percent annually since 2011. It's 50 percent higher than the average in the European Union.
Even more worrying: Experts aren't quite sure why.
Samantha Walker, Asthma UK's director of research and policy, said that a lack of understanding by health care professionals could be playing a part. Asthma requires monitoring of medication and ongoing consultation with patients to have the best chance of managing the condition. Patient education is also below par, with research indicating only one in six sufferers believes the condition can be fatal. In a press release, Asthma UK asserts that two-thirds of the deaths could have been prevented with basic care and monitoring.
The group is hoping to raise awareness by petitioning the UK's National Health Service to invest in better testing for the condition and for government funding to pursue a cure.