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  • number of COPD cases was estimated to be 384 million in 2010 with a prevalence of 11.7%
  • around 3 million deaths occur annually
  • prevalence of COPD is expected to increase over the next 30 years due to the increase in the number of people smoking and the aging population.
  • by the year 2030, over 4.5 million deaths may occur annually from COPD and related conditions (1)

The UK is among the top 20 countries for COPD mortality worldwide (between 2001-10). In Europe, only Denmark and Hungary have higher death rates for COPD, while rates are higher in the United States and New Zealand than in the UK.

In the UK:

  • an estimated 1.2 million people are living with diagnosed COPD – considerably more than the 835,000 estimated by the Department of Health in 2011.
    • this makes COPD the second most common lung disease in the UK, after asthma
  • around 2% of the whole population – 4.5% of all people aged over 40 – live with diagnosed COPD
    • the proportion of people living with COPD increases markedly with advancing age and affects 9% of those aged >70
  • the number of people who have ever had a diagnosis of COPD has increased by 27% in the last decade, from under 1,600 to nearly 2,000 per 100,000.
  • prevalence increased by 9% between 2008 and 2012
  • COPD prevalence, incidence and mortality rates are highest in Scotland and the north of England
  • men are more likely to be diagnosed with COPD and to die from it than women
  • in 2012, 29,776 people died from COPD (5.3% of the total number of UK deaths and 26.1%  of deaths from lung disease)
    • of these, 15,245 were males and 14,531 were females. The total number of deaths was up from 28,344 in 2008 (2,3)
  • an average general practice which provides healthcare for around 7,000 people will have up to 200 people with COPD on its practice list out of which in many patients the condition will be undiagnosed
  • COPD patients who seek hospital admission have been observed to be frequent users of primary care in the 12 months prior to their admission.
    • on average COPD patients made 12 contacts with general practice in the 12 months prior to admission to a hospital and had a median of 3 exacerbations (4)
  • COPD accounts for over 140,000 hospital admissions and over a million bed days each year across the UK (1.7% of all hospital admissions and bed days)
    • it is the second largest cause of emergency admission
    • 97% of these admissions are for emergency care
    • London has notably more hospital admissions for COPD than other regions with similar prevalence (3).
    • COPD admissions also show some seasonality (more common in the winter months) (4).


Last edited 04/2018 and last reviewed 02/2021