A brief history of bronchitis in England and Wales

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Abstract

Chronic bronchitis is associated with hypertrophy of airway submucosal glands and with mucus and squamous metaplasia of the surface epithelium. A historical review of research on these and other pathological changes is provided. Next, from annual reports of the Registrar-General's Office (and later the Office of National Statistics), death rates per unit population from acute and chronic bronchitis (a term that here includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]) are calculated for England and Wales from 1838 to the present. It is argued that a large increase in the death rate between 1838 and 1879, from all forms of bronchitis combined, was due primarily to increased levels of atmospheric coal smoke, whereas a decrease from 1879 to 1935 was due to progressively cleaner air. Between 1935 and the mid-1960s, mortality from chronic bronchitis among men increased dramatically, after which it has fallen, a pattern that parallels changes in cigarette smoking. Finally, a brief historical review of the treatments for chronic bronchitis is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-314
Number of pages12
JournalChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Airway mucosa
  • Airway submucosal glands
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Coal smoke
  • Industrial revolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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