Over the past 25 years, cases of asthma have risen by 40 million worldwide, going from 318 million in 1990 to 358 million in 2015. Fortunately, at the same time deaths from asthma have declined by more than 26%, dropping from 550 thousand to 400 thousand.

The study, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, looked at worldwide data from 1990 to 2015 on the the two most common chronic respiratory diseases-- asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

COPD cases have also risen significantly in the last 25 years, increasing by 44%. At the same time, deaths from COPD have also risen, but not at the same rate. COPD deaths only rose by 11%, going from 2.8 million to 3.2 million.

“COPD and asthma contribute substantially to the burden of non-communicable disease,” said Theo Vos, the study’s lead author. “Although much of the burden is either preventable or treatable with affordable interventions, these diseases have received less attention than other prominent non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes.”

Vos and his fellow researchers feel that part of the reason asthma and COPD don’t get as much treatment as they require is the varied definitions of COPD and asthma. They argue that with clearer definitions in place, more people who have the diseases will be correctly diagnosed and get access to the many treatments, such as nebulizer treatments and CPAP machines, used to fight the two diseases. Hopefully the death rates of both diseases will soon be on the decline.