Raising Awareness, Respiratory
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Respiratory Care Week 2022: More breathing room

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Published Online: Oct 21st 2022

“There are some striking numbers out there that people are just not aware of.” – Dr Gregory P. Downey, ATS President

Global death rates caused by chronic respiratory diseases rose by 18% between 1990 and 2017 – with an estimated 3.9 million deaths, accounting for 7% of all deaths worldwide. (BMJ 2020;368:m234)

This increase over the last three decades highlights respiratory disease as a significant global disease burden, with ageing and risk factors like air pollution, body weight and smoking playing a pivotal role. (BMJ 2020;368:m234)

Dr. Gregory P. Downey notes that in more recent years, this global burden has been exacerbated: “Several very good sources of data have put respiratory diseases as one of the top three, and perhaps the top cause of respiratory deaths in the world in the last couple of years, largely related to COVID-19.”

WATCH: Leila Atmowihardjo at ERS 2022 discussing imatinib for acute respiratory distress syndrome induced by COVID-19

He continues, saying, “Prior to COVID-19, I think the global burden of respiratory diseases was really underappreciated globally by governments and also by the lay public.” 

The most common chronic conditions are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And the numbers are stark, as Dr Gregory P. Downey stresses:

READ: Tezepelumab in the treatment of severe asthma

“… asthma affects more than 350 million people and is the most prevalent chronic illness of childhood worldwide. Mild-to-moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects over 200 million people and claims the lives of 3.2 million people each year, and this makes it the third leading cause of death globally.” 

He also remarks that acute lower respiratory tract infections “… account for approximately 2.4 million deaths annually and… are the leading cause of death in children in lower- and middle-income countries.” 

Other equally severe diseases like lung cancer – a leading cause of cancer-related deaths – claimed the lives of over two million people in 2020. And despite global efforts to control the spread of tuberculosis (TB), it still accounts for around 1.5 million deaths a year.

WATCH: Gerard A. Silvestri at CHEST 2022 discusses managing complications in the treatment of lung cancer

Considering these numbers, Dr Gregory P. Downey reiterates, “… this is a massive burden of disease that is vastly underappreciated.”

This sentiment expressed by Dr Gregory P. Downey is why 23-29 October is dedicated to recognising Respiratory Care Week 2022 (#RCWEEK22). 

Not only does #RCWEEK raise awareness of these diseases, their symptoms and available treatments, but also of the healthcare professionals behind the care – the clinicians, nurses and respiratory therapists who work hard to help patients breathe easier.

touchRESPIRATORY supports Respiratory Care Week and its aim to spread greater awareness of respiratory diseases and the available care, and to recognise the specialists who make that care possible. Learn about the latest treatments for respiratory conditions by visiting our library of free-to-access video interviews, conference highlights and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Alternatively, you can get in touch to learn how you can benefit from our educational activities and keep regularly updated on our content.

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