Background: While a large amount of data about the epidemiology of asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis and respiratory symptoms are available from developed countries, the information about these diseases in developing countries in south-east Asia are scarce.
Aim: Assess the prevalence of respiratory diseases and symptoms and their relation with demographic data including smoking habits among adults in rural and urban Vietnam.
Methods: A random sample of subjects aged 21-70 years were invited; 3008 subjects living in an inner city area of Hanoi and 4000 in a rural area of Bavi in northern Vietnam. An internationally used questionnaire was delivered by field workers to the study subjects. The questionnaire was completed by the subjects, or when necessary, by the field workers after reading the questions for the study participants.
Results: The response rate was 92% in Bavi and 70% in Hanoi. Of men in Bavi 67.8% (Hanoi 49.7%; p < 0.001) were smokers, while of women 4.2% were smokers in Hanoi (Bavi 1.2%; p < 0.001). The prevalence of ever asthma was in Hanoi 5.6% (Bavi 3.9%; p = 0.003) with no major gender difference. The most common symptom was longstanding cough (Hanoi 18.1%, Bavi 12.0%; p < 0.001) followed by sputum production, while the prevalence of symptoms common in asthma was considerably lower. Although the large difference in smoking habits, respiratory symptoms tended to be only slightly more common in men than women. Family history of asthma and chronic bronchitis, respectively, were strongly associated with both diseases.
Conclusions: The prevalence of asthma in adults may have increased in both urban and rural Vietnam, as the few previous estimates have found 2% of adults having asthma. Half of men in Hanoi and two-thirds in Bavi were smokers versus a few percent of women in both areas. Bronchitic symptoms were common in both men and women.
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