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Eur Respir J. 2011 Nov;38(5):1053-9. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00102110. Epub 2011 May 12.

Patterns of airway disease and the clinical diagnosis of asthma in the Busselton population.

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Busselton Population Medical Research Foundation, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Australia.


The aim of this study was to examine how objective measures related to lung function cluster in the general population and how the patterns relate to asthma and bronchitis as diagnosed by a doctor (DDA and DDB, respectively). A cross-sectional survey of an age-stratified random general population sample of 1,969 adults from the electoral register of Busselton (Australia) was performed in 2005-2007. Respiratory symptoms, DDA ever, DDB ever, recent wheezing and smoking history, together with anthropometric measurements, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV₁) and forced vital capacity (FVC), methacholine challenge or bronchodilator response, exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), skin-prick tests to common allergens, and blood eosinophil and neutrophil counts were studied. Cluster analysis (variables sex, age, atopy, FEV₁ % predicted, FEV₁/FVC, airway hyperresponsiveness, eNO, log eosinphil count, log neutrophil count and body mass index) was used to identify phenotypic patterns. Seven clusters (subjects with DDA and DDB, respectively) were identified: normal males (n=467; 7 and 13%), normal females (n=477; 12 and 18%), obese females (n=250; 16 and 28%), atopic younger adults (n=330; 21 and 17%), atopic adults with high eNO (n=130; 30 and 25%), atopic males with reduced FEV₁ (n=103; 33 and 32%) and atopic adults with bronchial hyperreactivity (n=212; 40 and 26%). The clinical diagnosis of asthma (ever) and bronchitis (ever) is not specific for any of the clustering patterns of airway abnormality.

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