Under-report and underdiagnosis of chronic respiratory diseases in an African country


Pedro Carreiro Martins
Immunoallergy Department
Dona Estefânea Hospital
Rua Jacinta Marto
Lisboa 1169-045


Background:  Chronic respiratory diseases (CRD) are greatly underestimated. The aim of this study was to assess the burden associated with reported CRD and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as defined on the basis of various standardized criteria, by estimating their point prevalence in a sample of individuals attending the Primary Health Care (PHC) level and Emergency Room (ER) Departments in Cape Verde (CV) archipelago. The second aim of the study was to identify factors related to airways obstruction and reported CRD in this population.

Methods:  A cross-sectional study was carried out in CV during 2 weeks. Outpatients aged more than 20 years seeking care at PHC level and ER answered a standardized questionnaire and were subjected to spirometry, independently of their complaint. Two criteria for airways obstruction were taken into account: forced expiratory volume (FEV1) <80% of the predicted value and FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio <0.70.

Results:  A total of 274 individuals with a satisfactory spirometry were included. 22% of the individuals had a FEV1 < 80%. Individuals older than 46 years had a higher risk of having airways obstruction. Asthma diagnosis (11%) had a clear association with airways obstruction. Smoking was a risk factor for a lower FEV1. Working in a dust place and cooking using an open fire were both related to chronic bronchitis and asthma diagnosis.

Conclusion:  Under-report and underdiagnosis of chronic respiratory conditions seem to be a reality in CV just as in other parts of the world. To improve diagnosis, our results reinforce the need of performing a spirometry.