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Decreased prevalence of moderate to severe COPD over 15 years in northern Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (OLIN)
Halmstad, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: The burden of COPD in terms of mortality, morbidity, costs and prevalence has increased worldwide. Recent results on prevalence in Western Europe are conflicting. In Sweden smoking prevalence has steadily decreased over the past 30 years. 

Aim: The aim was to study changes in prevalence and risk factor patterns of COPD in the same area and within the same age-span 15 years apart.

Material and methods: Two population-based cross-sectional samples in ages 23-72 years participating at examinations in 1994 and 2009, respectively, were compared in terms of COPD prevalence, severity and risk factor patterns. Two different definitions of COPD were used; FEV1/FVC<LLN and FEV1/FVC<0.7. The severity of COPD was assessed by FEV1, both as % of predicted and in relation to the LLN.

Results: The prevalence of COPD decreased significantly from 9.5% to 6.3% (p=0.030) according to the FEV1/FVC<LLN criterion, while the decrease based on the FEV1/FVC<0.7 criterion from 10.5% to 8.5% was non-significant. The prevalence of moderate to severe COPD decreased substantially and significantly, and the risk factor pattern was altered in 2009 when, beside age and smoking, also socio-economic status based on occupation was significantly associated with COPD. 

Conclusions: Changes in both prevalence and risk factor patterns of COPD were observed between surveys. Following a continuing decrease in smoking habits over several decades, a decrease in the prevalence of moderate to severe COPD was observed from 1994 to 2009 in northern Sweden.

Keyword [en]
COPD, Prevalence, Risk factors, Epidemiology, GOLD, Lower Limit of Normal
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Research subject
hälso- och sjukvårdsforskning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-118023OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-118023DiVA: diva2:910774
Available from: 2016-03-10 Created: 2016-03-10 Last updated: 2016-03-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Lung function and prevalence trends in asthma and COPD: the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden Thesis XVI
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lung function and prevalence trends in asthma and COPD: the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden Thesis XVI
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are common obstructive airway diseases with a substantial burden in terms of morbidity, mortality and costs. Smoking is the single most important risk factor for COPD, and is associated with incident asthma. It is important to know if the prevalence of asthma and COPD is increasing or decreasing in the population in order to effectively allocate health care resources. The definitions of these diseases have varied over time which makes it difficult to measure changes in prevalence. The preferred method is to estimate the prevalence with the same procedures and definitions based on cross-sectional population samples with identical age distributions in the same geographical area at different time points. Measurements of lung function (spirometry) are required to diagnose COPD, and spirometry is used to evaluate disease severity and progress of both asthma and COPD, where observed values are compared to reference values. The most commonly used reference values in Sweden are published during the mid 1980s, and there are few evaluations of how appropriate they are today based on Swedish population samples. The aim of the thesis was to estimate trends in the prevalence of asthma and COPD in relation to smoking habits, and to evaluate and estimate reference values for spirometry.

Methods

The project was based on population-based samples of adults from the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden (OLIN) studies. Postal questionnaires were sent to large cohorts, recruited in 1992 (n=4851, 20-69 years), 1996 (n=7420, 20-74 years) and 2006 (n=6165, 20-69 years), respectively. The questionnaire included questions on respiratory symptoms and diseases, their comorbidities and several possible risk factors including smoking habits. Structured interviews and spirometry were performed in random samples of the responders to the 1992 and 2006 surveys, of which n=660 (in 1994) and n=623 (in 2009) were within identical age-spans (23-72 years). The trend in asthma prevalence was estimated by comparing the postal questionnaire surveys in 1996 and 2006, and the trend in COPD prevalence was estimated by comparing the samples participating in dynamic spirometry in 1994 and 2009, respectively. The prevalence of COPD was estimated based on two different definitions of COPD. Commonly used reference values for spirometry were evaluated based on randomly sampled healthy non-smokers defined in clinical examinations of participants in the 2006 postal questionnaire (n=501). The main focus of the evaluation was the global lung function initiative (GLI) reference values published in 2012, for which Z-scores and percent of predicted values were analysed. New sex-specific reference values for spirometry were estimated by linear regression, with age and height as predictors. These new OLIN reference values were also evaluated on a sample of healthy non-smokers identified in the population-based West Sweden Asthma Study.

Results

Although the prevalence of smoking decreased from 27.4% to 19.1%, p<0.001, between 1996 and 2006, the prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma increased from 9.4% to 11.6%, p<0.001. The prevalence of symptoms common in asthma such as recurrent wheeze did not change significantly between the surveys or tended to decrease, while bronchitis symptoms such as cough and sputum production decreased significantly. The evaluation of the GLI reference values showed that the predicted values were significantly lower compared to the observed values in Norrbotten, which makes the percent of predicted too high. This was especially true for FVC percent predicted with a mean of 106%. In general, the deviations were more pronounced among women. New OLIN reference values valid for the Norrbotten sample were modelled and showed a high external validity when applied on the sample from western Sweden. The prevalence of moderate to severe COPD decreased substantially over the 15-year period between 1994 and 2009, regardless of definition.

Conclusions

In parallel with substantially decreased smoking habits in the population between 1996 and 2006, the prevalence of several airway symptoms decreased while the prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma increased. These results suggest increased diagnostic activity for asthma, but may also suggest that the asthma prevalence has continued to increase. In contrast to asthma, the prevalence of COPD tended to decrease and moderate to severe COPD decreased substantially. The continuous decrease in smoking in Sweden during several decades prior to the study period is most likely contributing to these results. The evaluation of reference values showed that the GLI reference values were lower than the observed spirometric values in the population, especially for women, why the new up-to date reference values may be of importance for disease evaluation in epidemiology and in the health care as well.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2016. 83 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1796
Keyword
reference values, spirometry, risk factors, respiratory symptoms
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Respiratory Medicine and Allergy Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-118026 (URN)978-91-7601-434-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-15, Aulan, Sunderby sjukhus, Luleå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-03-24 Created: 2016-03-10 Last updated: 2016-05-10Bibliographically approved

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