The prevalence of sarcoidosis in the United States is unknown, with estimates ranging widely from 1 to 40 per 100,000. We sought to determine the prevalence of sarcoidosis in our health system compared to other rare lung diseases and to further establish if the prevalence was changing over time. We interrogated the electronic medical records of all patients treated in our health system from 1995 to 2010 (1.48 million patients) using the common ICD9 codes for sarcoidosis (135), lung cancer (162), and several other lung diseases characterized, like sarcoidosis, as "rare lung diseases". The patient demographic information (race, gender, age) was further analyzed to identify signature data patterns. The prevalence of sarcoidosis in our health system increased steadily from 164/100,000 in 1995 to 330/100,000 in 2010, and this trend could not be ascribed simply to changes in patient demographics or patient referral patterns. We further estimate that the prevalence of sarcoidosis exceeds 48 per 100,000 in Franklin County, Ohio, the demographic profile of which is nearly identical to that of the U.S. Sarcoidosis prevalence increased over time relative to lung cancer, a benchmark disease with stable disease prevalence, and exceeded that of other rare lung diseases. We postulate that the observed 2-fold increase in sarcoidosis disease prevalence in our health system is primarily related to improved detection and diagnostic approaches, and we conclude that the actual prevalence of sarcoidosis in central Ohio greatly exceeds current U.S. estimates.
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