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Free Content Has the increase in the prevalence of asthma and respiratory symptoms reached a plateau in Stockholm, Sweden?

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SETTING: An increase in the prevalence of asthma has previously been reported worldwide. However, the current trend is debatable.

OBJECTIVE: To assess changes in the prevalence of asthma and respiratory symptoms in a defined study area in Stockholm, Sweden, using identical methods.

DESIGN: A questionnaire was sent by mail in 1996 and 2007 to randomly selected subjects aged 20–69 years. On both occasions, 8000 subjects received the questionnaire, with response rates of 72% and 68%, respectively. Questions on asthma, respiratory symptoms, asthma medication and possible determinants were included. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess determinants.

RESULTS: Ever asthma increased from 8.7% in 1996 to 11.0% in 2007 and physician-diagnosed asthma from 7.6% to 9.3%. The proportion of asthma patients reporting one to two symptoms increased by 14% during the study period. There were few significant changes in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms: wheeze in the previous 12 months (15.9–17.3%), wheezing with breathlessness apart from cold (3.2–4.1%) and recurrent wheeze (8.3–6.8%). There was no major difference in the risk factor pattern between the surveys.

CONCLUSION: An increase in the prevalence of asthma with few symptoms as well as an unchanged prevalence of symptoms was demonstrated, which may indicate a change in diagnostic practices.
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Keywords: asthma; epidemiology; prevalence; respiratory symptoms

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Internal Medicine, Krefting Research Centre, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden 2: Lung and Allergy Research, National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden 3: Center for Allergy Research, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 01 June 2010

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