Comparisons of asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis diagnoses in a general population sample

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1986 Jun;133(6):981-6. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1986.133.6.981.


This report is an analysis of cases of obstructive lung disease diagnosed during the first 8 yr of a community study. Of 351 subjects who received a new diagnosis of asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis from community physicians, 152 (44.5%) had a prior or concomitant diagnosis of another obstructive disease. Asthma developed most often in young subjects, emphysema in older subjects, and chronic bronchitis occurred in all age groups. Among older subjects, disease groups were surprisingly similar, with wheeze, dyspnea, and attacks of shortness of breath with wheeze all occurring frequently in diagnosed subjects, including those with emphysema. The majority of subjects who developed emphysema were males. In contrast, 72.8% of the asthma and chronic bronchitis subjects were females. These results suggest that physician bias may result in labeling male patients as emphysematous and female patients as asthmatic or bronchitic.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Arizona
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Bronchitis / complications
  • Bronchitis / diagnosis*
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Emphysema / complications
  • Emphysema / diagnosis*
  • Emphysema / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged