Respiratory symptoms and respiratory deaths: A multi-cohort study with 45 years observation time
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLOS ONE. 2021, 16 (11), e0260416. 10.1371/journal.pone.0260416
This study determined the association between respiratory symptoms and death from respiratory causes over a period of 45 years. In four cohorts of random samples of Norwegian populations with 103,881 participants, 43,731 persons had died per 31 December 2016. In total, 5,949 (14%) had died from respiratory diseases; 2,442 (41%) from lung cancer, 1,717 (29%) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 1,348 (23%) pneumonia, 119 (2%) asthma, 147 (2%) interstitial lung disease and 176 (3%) other pulmonary diseases. Compared with persons without respiratory symptoms the multivariable adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for lung cancer deaths increased with score of breathlessness on effort and cough and phlegm, being 2.6 (95% CI 2.1–3.2) for breathlessness score 3 and 2.1 (95% CI 1.7–2.5) for cough and phlegm score 5. The HR of COPD death was 6.4 (95% CI 5.4–7.7) for breathlessness score 3 and 3.0 (2.4–3.6) for cough and phlegm score 5. Attacks of breathlessness and wheeze score 2 had a HR of 1.6 (1.4–1.9) for COPD death. The risk of pneumonia deaths increased also with higher breathlessness on effort score, but not with higher cough and phlegm score, except for score 2 with HR 1.5 (1.2–1.8). In this study with >2.4 million person-years at risk, a positive association was observed between scores of respiratory symptoms and deaths due to COPD and lung cancer. Respiratory symptoms are thus important risk factors, which should be followed thoroughly by health care practitioners for the benefit of public health.