Risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a north Italian rural area

Eur J Epidemiol. 1994 Dec;10(6):725-31. doi: 10.1007/BF01719289.


To assess the role of risk factors for chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) by multiple logistic models, the data of the first cross-sectional epidemiological survey in the unpolluted rural area of the Po River Delta were analyzed (n = 2382; 20-64 years). Each subject filled out a standardized questionnaire; 94% of the subjects were also able to perform forced expirograms. Dependent variables were chronic respiratory symptoms, asthma, abnormal parameters of flow-volume curve (ABNFVC), and a complex characterized by chronic phlegm, and/or any wheeze and/or dyspnea grade 2+ and/or diagnosis of asthma and/or an FEV1/FVC ratio less than 60% (ANYABN). Independent variables were: age, ever cigarette smoking (SMK) and lifetime cigarette consumption expressed as pack-years, childhood respiratory infections (CRI), adolescence-adulthood respiratory infections (ARI), familial history for COPD (FCOPD) or for asthma/allergies (FASTHMA), work exposure to dusts/chemicals (EXPO), low socio-economic conditions (SES). A significant relationship with almost all dependent variables was shown by pack-years, ARI and age in both sexes. In males, FCOPD was related to chronic mucus hypersecretion and to ABNFVC, FASTHMA was associated with wheeze and ANYABN. EXPO was related to dyspnea and asthmatic symptoms in both sexes and also to bronchitic symptoms in males. CRI was a significant contributor for asthma symptoms in males, for ANYABN in females. SES had no significant association. In conclusion, our findings show that, beside lifetime cigarette smoking, other host--or environment--related conditions are important risk factors for COPD, suggesting the need for a more thorough strategy for prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyspnea / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / genetics
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow-Volume Curves
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Social Class
  • Sputum
  • Vital Capacity