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Prim Care Respir J. 2010 Dec;19(4):371-7. doi: 10.4104/pcrj.2010.00042.

Acute respiratory illness as a trigger for detecting chronic bronchitis in adults at risk of COPD: a primary care survey.

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Service de Pneumologie et Réanimation, Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu, Université Paris-Descartes, AP-HP, Paris, France.



To evaluate the impact of chronic bronchitis in patients identified among subjects at risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but currently free from any known chronic respiratory disorder, visiting a general practitioner for an acute respiratory episode.


A multicentre, cross-sectional survey carried out in primary care.


Primary care practitioners (n = 772) examined 14,030 patients with acute cough (male: 56.9%, age 50.6 ± 16.5 years). Of these, 3,615 were at risk of COPD (> 40 years and tobacco use > 10 pack-years) and constituted the study population: 79.8% reported current symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Compared to patients without chronic bronchitis, they were older, more frequently exposed to occupational pollutants or to passive smoking, had more tobacco use (p < 0.001), reported dyspnoea > Grade 2 more frequently, and had poorer quality of life as assessed by the EuroQOL-5D questionnaire.


In this survey, previously unrecognised chronic bronchitis was diagnosed in a high proportion of at-risk patients with acute respiratory episodes. Chronic bronchitis was associated with significantly poorer health status. Acute respiratory illness could be an appropriate opportunity for screening those patients at risk of COPD with lung function testing.

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