The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Maastricht, the Netherlands

Respir Med. 2012 Jun;106(6):871-4. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2012.01.008. Epub 2012 Feb 19.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an increasing public health problem worldwide. Although epidemiologic data on COPD are important to raise awareness of the burden of disease, there are no actual spirometry-based data on the prevalence of COPD in the Netherlands.

Methods: Using the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) protocol and study design, a population-based sample of adults, aged ≥ 40 years, in the area of Maastricht, the Netherlands was surveyed. Post-bronchodilator spirometry and questionnaires with information on smoking history and reported respiratory disease were collected. COPD was defined as post-bronchodilator FEV(1)/FVC ratio < 0,7 (GOLD) or < the lower limit of normal (LLN) (95th percentile) of the population distribution for FEV(1)/FVC. Data were statistically weighted for the total number of people in the Maastricht population.

Results: Overall prevalence of COPD was 24%, and was higher for men (28.5%) than for women (195%). (unweighted p = 0.002) The prevalence of GOLD stage 2 or higher COPD was 10%. The prevalence of LLN-defined COPD was 19% and 10% for stage 2 or higher. Overall prevalence of current smoking was 23%. The prevalence of COPD increased with age and amount of pack-years, although 14% of never smokers fulfilled spirometric criteria for COPD. The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed COPD was only 8.8%.

Conclusion: Almost one quarter of the Maastricht population aged ≥ 40 years had COPD. Considering the ageing population and still an important smoking prevalence, this burden is bound to increase and imposes great demands to public health care and society in the Netherlands.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity / physiology