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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.

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: June 1, 2010

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

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