Department of Public Health Sciences

Prevalence and correlates of respiratory symptoms and disease in the elderly. Cardiovascular Health Study

Enright, P. L., R. A. Kronmal, M. W. Higgins, M. B. Schenker and E. F. Haponik

Chest. 1994. 106(3):827-834.

Spirometry was performed by 5,201 elderly participants of the Cardiovascular Health Study during their baseline examination and a subset of the ATS/DLD-78 respiratory questionnaire was administered by trained interviewers. In never smokers (46 percent of the cohort), the overall prevalence of chronic cough was 9 percent, chronic phlegm was 13 percent, attacks of wheezing with dyspnea were 8 percent, and grade 3 dyspnea on exertion was 10 percent. The prevalence of lung disease in current smokers (12 percent of the cohort) was 8/7 percent (men/women) with chronic bronchitis and 14/5 percent with emphysema. Overall, 6 percent reported asthma (a physician-confirmed history) and 12 percent reported hay fever. Using a logistic regression model, attacks of wheezing with dyspnea were strongly associated with a lower FEV1, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and a large waist size (in participants without a diagnosis of asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema). Undiagnosed airways obstruction was twice as likely in women and those with lower income, and was associated with current and former smoking, pack-years of smoking, and chronic cough. Dyspnea on exertion (DOE) was three times or more likely if a participant reported heart failure, coronary heart disease, or emphysema; and much more likely if their FEV1 or FVC was substantially reduced. Dyspnea on exertion was also positively associated with older age, chronic bronchitis or asthma, a larger waist or hip size, pack-years of smoking, and less education. We conclude that DOE and attacks of wheezing with dyspnea are commonly associated with cardiovascular disease and a low FEV1 in those over 65 years and that airways obstruction frequently remains undiagnosed in the elderly.

Keywords: Aged, Aged, 80 and over, California/epidemiology, Cohort Studies, Comparative Study, Female, Human, Lung Diseases/diagnosis/epidemiology, Male, Maryland/epidemiology, Multivariate Analysis, North Carolina/epidemiology, Pennsylvania/epidemiology, Prevalence, Prognosis, Questionnaires, Respiratory Tract Diseases/diagnosis/*epidemiology, Spirometry/statistics & numerical data, Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.



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