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Free Content Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is missed in asthmatics in specialty care in Trinidad, West Indies

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SETTING: Underdiagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in asthmatics attending specialty care in Trinidad, West Indies.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of COPD in diagnosed asthmatics receiving specialty respiratory care.

DESIGN: In a cross-sectional study, 258 asthmatics were screened for lung function measures to examine forced expiratory volume after 1 second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC) and post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC (COPD was defined as FEV1/FVC < 70%).

RESULTS: Of 165 patients evaluated (response rate 64.0%), 53 (32.1%, 95%CI 25.0–39.2) had a study diagnosis of COPD and a mean FEV1/FVC of 60.12 ± 1.2. Proportionally, more males had COPD (50.9%) than asthma (24.1%, P < 0.001). Patients with COPD were 10 years older than asthmatics (P < 0.001). Persons with asthma who smoked were more likely to have COPD (56.0%) (OR 3.26, 95%CI 1.36–7.80, P = 0.006). In both sexes, FEV1/FVC was lower among older people (P < 0.001), with a greater effect (OR 2.75, 95%CI 1.00–7.56, P < 0.01) seen among men in this cross-sectional study.

CONCLUSIONS: One third of diagnosed asthmatics in specialty care also have COPD. Lung function was lower among older persons. Early spirometric evaluation of elderly asthmatics who smoke can determine the presence of COPD and facilitate appropriate management.
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Keywords: COPD; asthma; lung function; sex; smoking

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Medicine, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago 2: Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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