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Respir Med. 1997 Feb;91(2):83-8.

Prevalence of asthma and asthma-like symptoms in Athens, Greece.

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10th Respiratory Clinic, Medical School of Athens University, Sotiria Hospital, Greece.


Asthma is a common chronic condition and there is evidence that its prevalence may be rising. The European Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) was planned to produce comparable data on asthma epidemiology in Europe. In Greece, in particular, a similar study has not been conducted previously and no epidemiological data are available on adult asthma prevalence. Furthermore, the role of air pollution in the pathogenesis of asthma is currently an issue of debate. Athens is a city with high air pollution, and a study of asthma epidemiology in this city may confirm or refute a possible link with the expression of asthma. A questionnaire developed by the ECRHS was sent to a random sample of 3533 households in Peristeri, an industrialized borough of Athens. Responses were received from 2774 households (response rate 78%). Of all the data on individual subjects, only those from 3325 adults aged 20-44 years were considered, according to the study protocol. The self-reported current prevalence of asthmatic attacks and asthma-like symptoms were as follows: asthma attack 2.4%, use of asthma medication 2.1%, awakening by shortness of breath 5.6%, awakening by cough 17.8%, wheezing 15.8% and nasal allergies 18.4%. It is concluded that the prevalence of asthma and related symptoms in this region of Athens is rather low, despite the high air-pollution levels in the city.

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