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Editor's Correspondence |

Trends in Population Burden of COPD: Actual Facts or Fallacies?

Erik W. Bischoff, MD, MSc; Alan J. Crockett, MPH, PhD, FANZSRS; Tjard R. J. Schermer, MSc, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(15):1408-1410. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.259.
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With great interest we read the contribution by Gershon and colleagues1 about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)-related prevalence, incidence, and mortality in Canada. Their study is another example of how administrative databases can be powerful sources of research data. Nonetheless, after studying the article we felt that we should make some comments.

In the time between submission and publication of the article,1 we have published COPD prevalence data from a primary care database in the Netherlands.2 The sex-stratified prevalence trends as reported by Gershon et al1 contradict our (and others’) findings: while their graphs show consistently higher prevalence rates in women, our 30-year trend study shows higher rates in men. Our data clearly show that women are catching up with men in terms of COPD prevalence (Figure), while the figures presented by Gershon et al1 show the exact opposite. Apart from an error in the male and female labeling in the graphs, we cannot think of a plausible explanation for the remarkable and divergent finding that COPD prevalence is higher in Canadian women.

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Figure.

Trends in prevalence (number per 1000 patients per year) of physician-diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by sex; 3-year moving averages for 1980 to 2006.2 The overall prevalence of COPD has only slightly decreased over time, but the relative contributions of men and women have clearly shifted at the disadvantage of women. Figure used with permission from the British Journal of General Practice.2

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