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  1. ITV Report

Asthma deaths rise to highest level in 10 years, data shows

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

Asthma deaths have risen to their highest level in more than a decade, according to official data.

More than 1,400 people died from an asthma attack last year in England and Wales, which is an eight per cent increase compared to 2017, the charity Asthma UK said.

The Office for National Statistics data (ONS) also shows that the number of deaths have increased by 33 per cent in the past decade- up from 1,071 in 2008.

The figures show an increase in men dying from the illness, with 436 men dying in 2018 compared to 370 the previous year. According to the NHS website, three people die of the disease every day.

GPs have warned that basic asthma care could be behind the rise, the charity warned.

Around 60 per cent of people with asthma in England and Wales - an estimated 2.9 million people - are not receiving basic care as recommended by national guidelines, the charity added.

An NHS commissioned review found that two-thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented by better basic care.

Asthma UK said only one if its 19 recommendations had been "partially" implemented.

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Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said it was "completely unacceptable" that people were dying of asthma.

She added: "It’s been five years since the National Review of Asthma Deaths found that two-thirds of deaths from asthma attacks could have been prevented with basic care, yet we are still seeing tragic cases of lives being cut short.

Ms Boycott called on the Government to ensure basic provisions for asthma sufferers were being met, including check-ups and being given inhalers. Credit: PA

“The same mistakes are being made again and again because essential recommendations have not been implemented. This lack of action is costing lives and devastating families and communities."

Ms Boycott called on the Government to ensure basic provisions for asthma sufferers were being met, including check-ups and being given inhalers.

Around 4.8 million people in England and Wales are thought to suffer from asthma.

More than 12,700 people have died from the condition in England and Wales in the last decade.

The figures also showed a 24 per cent increase in asthma deaths in the South East over 12 months, rising from 191 in 2017 to 237 in 2018.

Deaths in London rose 17% from 151 in 2017 to 176 in 2018.

Mike Morgan, national clinical director for respiratory services at NHS England, said: "With confirmation that one third of childhood asthma cases are linked to air pollution, it’s clear that a big part of this challenge cannot be met by the NHS alone.”

How to help someone having an asthma attack

Asthma is the a condition that affects the airways and can cause breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and a tight chest.

The NHS recommends that if someone is having an asthma attack, they should:

  • Sit upright and take slow, steady breathes
  • Try to remain calm as this will make things worth
  • Take one puff of the inhaler (usually blue) every 30 to 60 seconds, with a maximum of 10 puffs
  • Call 999 for an ambulance if they inhaler isn't with the sufferer
  • Also call ambulance if you don't feel better after taking 10 puffs or the person having an attack is worried
  • If the ambulance hasn't arrived within 15 minutes, repeat taking on puff on the inhaler every 30 to 60 seconds