Ireland has highest rate of admissions for deadly lung disease in developed world

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects almost one in 10 Irish people

A recent European audit found 50 per cent of all patients admitted to hospital with the disease are either dead or back in hospital within three months.

A recent European audit found 50 per cent of all patients admitted to hospital with the disease are either dead or back in hospital within three months.

Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 01:00


Ireland has the highest rate of hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the developed world, an expert on the disease has said.

COPD, which compromises of two diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is one of the biggest killers in Ireland and is predominantly caused by smoking.

It is characterised by shortness of breath and lung disease. Some 20 per cent of those with the illness retire early.

Ireland currently has 364 per 100,000 admissions to hospital for COPD-related conditions; the OECD average is 198 per 100,000.

A recent European audit found 50 per cent of all patients admitted to hospital with the disease are either dead or back in hospital within three months.

Ireland’s rate of COPD is as high as that in the former Eastern bloc countries of Kazakhstan and Romania, according to Professor Tim McDonnell, the head of the HSE’s COPD programme.


‘Unnecessary deaths’

Speaking at the launch of the first Irish patients’ group for COPD sufferers, Professor McDonnell said there was a “massive incentive for all those in the COPD community to tackle this disease head-on and reduce the amount of unnecessary deaths associated with the disease”.

COPD Support Ireland will provide information and advice to those affected by the illness along with developing a national network of local groups. A dedicated COPD screening bus will travel to a number of cities from Monday November 18th to Friday November 22nd, stopping in Dublin, Sligo, Mayo, Waterford and Cork.

Minister of State Alex White said the figures relating to COPD were “shocking” in an Irish context with 440,000 people affected by the disease, almost one in 10 of the population.

He said tackling it was an essential part of the Government’s strategy of concentrating resources on prevention and early detection.

He reiterated the Government’s commitment to free GP care for all within the lifetime of the present Government, claiming it would remove a barrier for those who cannot afford to spend up to €60 a visit to the doctor.

“If the barrier of GP care is removed, people are more likely to address a medical issue at the earliest stage when it is most treatable,” he said.