Study finds obstructive lung disease prevalent in major Latin American cities |

Study finds obstructive lung disease prevalent in major Latin American cities

MEXICO CITY – Chronic obstructive lung disease appears to be more prevalent in Latin America than previously thought, according to an independent study of residents in five major cities in Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil.A disease state characterized by irreversible airflow limitation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, afflicts about 8 percent of people aged 40 and older in Mexico City and nearly 20 percent of that segment in Montevideo, Uruguay, according to a study published Friday by The Lancet, a London-based medical journal.The prevalence of COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, was about twice what authors of the study had expected to find among big city dwellers, based on existing studies. The study also included residents of Caracas, Venezuela; Santiago, Chile; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.Smoking rates, the chief risk factor for COPD, are generally high across Latin America, the study noted.”Our results suggest that COPD is a much larger health problem in Latin America than has been previously realized,” the report stated. The author of the study was not immediately available for contact.Mexico City, which showed the lowest prevalence, has less tobacco use. But Mexicans also appeared to have better lung function than other populations – perhaps because of lung development at high altitude or genetic advantages.The study tested 5,315 participants for air flow and air volume by spirometer, a tool used to diagnose asthma and COPD and to monitor the course of treatments.New data on COPD are welcomed at Mexico’s National Institute of Respiratory Disease, whose hospital examines about 70,000 patients a year.”More information is needed,” said Jaime Villalba, a respiratory specialist at the institute. “For the health sector, these diseases are very expensive – above all emphysema, which is irreversible.”Pollution, while still heavy, has decreased in Mexico City with emissions inspections and traffic restrictions on heavily pollution days, Villalba noted.The study found that Santiago, where exposure to coal and being overweight was highest, had the highest rate of hospital admissions for respiratory problems of the five cities surveyed.Consistent with established trends, the study found a higher prevalence of COPD in men, the elderly, overweight people, the less educated and those exposed to tobacco smoke.Vail, Colorado

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