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Symptoms and lung function decline in a middle-aged cohort of males and females in Australia

Authors Abramson M, Kaushik S, Benke G, Borg B, Smith CL, Dharmage S, Thompson B

Received 7 January 2016

Accepted for publication 8 March 2016

Published 26 May 2016 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 1097—1103


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Michael J Abramson,1 Sonia Kaushik,1 Geza P Benke,1 Brigitte M Borg,2 Catherine L Smith,1 Shyamali C Dharmage,3 Bruce R Thompson2

1Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, 2Department of Allergy, Immunology & Respiratory Medicine, The Alfred Hospital, 3Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Background: The European Community Respiratory Health Survey is a major international study designed to assess lung health in adults. This Australian follow-up investigated changes in symptoms between sexes and the roles of asthma, smoking, age, sex, height, and change in body mass index (ΔBMI) on lung function decline (LFD), which is a major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: LFD was measured as the rate of decline over time in FEV1 (mL/year) (ΔFEV1) and FVC (ΔFVC) between 1993 and 2013. Multiple linear regression was used to estimate associations between risk factors and LFD, separately for males and females. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess sex differences and changes in respiratory symptoms over time.
Results: In Melbourne, 318 subjects (53.8% females) participated. The prevalence of most respiratory symptoms had either remained relatively stable over 20 years or decreased (significantly so for wheeze). The exception was shortness of breath after activity, which had increased. Among the 262 subjects who completed spirometry, current smoking declined from 20.2% to 7.3%. Overall mean (± standard deviation) FEV1 declined by 23.1 (±17.1) and FVC by 22.9 (±20.2) mL/year. Predictors of ΔFEV1 in males were age, maternal smoking, and baseline FEV1; and in females they were age, ΔBMI, baseline FEV1, and pack-years in current smokers. Decline in FVC was predicted by baseline FVC, age, and ΔBMI in both sexes; however, baseline FVC predicted steeper decline in females than males.
Conclusion: Most respiratory symptoms remained stable or decreased over time in both sexes. Age, baseline lung function, and change in BMI were associated with the rate of decline in both sexes. However, obesity and personal smoking appear to put females at higher risk of LFD than males. Health promotion campaigns should particularly target females to prevent COPD.

Keywords: cohort study, lung function, body mass index, tobacco smoking, COPD, respiratory symptoms

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