Scots in cities most likely to fall victim to lung disease

Scots living in urban areas are more likely to die from lung disease than anywhere else in the UK, a new report said.

A person dies of lung disease in the UK every five minutes. Picture: PA
A person dies of lung disease in the UK every five minutes. Picture: PA

The impact of heavy industry and a higher than averagerate of smoking is blamed for mortality rates from the condition being almost three times higher in central Glasgow than in parts of London.

The figures were revealed in the first major audit in a decade of treatment for lung conditions. Research by the British Lung Foundation revealed breathing-related illness are far more widespread than previously thought. One person dies and five more are diagnosed with lung disease every five minutes, with only heart disease and cancer affecting more people in the UK.

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Scotland was found to have higher rates of less common lung conditions such as pneumoconiosis, commonly caused by inhaling dusts and chemicals in the workplace.

Various parts of the country, particularly those with a history of shipbuilding such as Glasgow, also have high rates of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Scots were also found to be more likely than the UK average to suffer from conditions such as asthma, sarcoidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The foundation said the NHS was guilty of “systemic neglect” of those living with lung disease, as survival rates have barely changed in ten years.

Irene Johnstone, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “Although a lot of lung disease in Scotland can be attributed to our historically higher rates of smoking, there are still thousands dying each year from lung conditions not caused by tobacco. Therefore, while current government efforts to tackle smoking are absolutely to be welcomed, any effective strategy to reduce lung disease deaths in Scotland needs to be far more wide-reaching.

“This is why we need a national improvement plan for lung health in Scotland.”