Background: Findings from studies done over the past 20 years suggest that mortality from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is decreasing worldwide, but little information is available for trends in Europe. We aimed to describe COPD mortality trends by sex and calendar year for the period of 1994 to 2010.
Methods: We extracted data for COPD deaths between 1994 and 2010 in the 27 countries in the European Union (EU) from the statistical office of the EU (Eurostat), using the International Classification of Diseases 10 (ICD-10) codes J40-J44 and J47. We estimated age-standardised mortality rates (ASR), and analysed data using joinpoint regression, for women and men in the EU overall and by individual country for each year. We used the standard European population as the reference and present our findings as deaths per 100,000 person-years. We compared findings for each country with the EU average by calculating standardised rate ratios (SRR) and 95% CIs.
Findings: Between 1994 and 2010, there were 2,348,184 recorded COPD deaths in the EU. COPD mortality was higher in men than in women throughout the study period in all EU countries. In the EU overall, deaths per 100,000 population decreased in men almost linearly from 90·07 in 1994 to 61·33 in 2010, and in women from 26·99 in 1994 to 25·15 in 2010, representing a narrowing in gender gap over the study period. Several countries had a higher SRR mortality than the EU average-eg, Ireland, Hungary, and Belgium for men and Denmark, the UK, and the Netherlands for women. Our joinpoint regression analysis identified no statistically significant changes in the trend for the whole EU, but several countries had changing trends over the study period. In men, we recorded a 2·56% constant and statistically significant decrease in ASRs in the EU. Five countries had an increase in ASR. Overall, in women, we recorded a 0·76% statistically significant decrease in ASRs. 14 countries had an increase in ASR.
Interpretation: Our findings indicate a downward trend in COPD mortality in Europe between 1994 and 2010. The data also suggest a narrowing of the gap between COPD mortality in men and in women. The wide heterogeneity in mortality rates within European countries could serve as a reference to allow informed policy making.
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