Prevalence of obstructive airways disease in the disadvantaged elderly of Chicago

Aarti Malik*, Carol A. Saltoun, Paul R. Yarnold, Leslie C. Grammer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The prevalence of obstructive airways disease in the disadvantaged elderly population is underestimated. Consequently, asthma may be suboptimally managed in this population leading to poorer symptom control and quality of life in this group. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of obstructive airways disease (OAD) in a disadvantaged elderly population. A cross-sectional study was conducted in which we interviewed older adults at centers subsidized by the Chicago Department on Aging. Participants were individuals who agreed to complete a five-page questionnaire about their health. Three hundred eighty individuals agreed to fill out a questionnaire about their health. The mean and median age was 74 years. There were 38 (10%) individuals with self-report of doctor-diagnosed asthma, 40 (11%) individuals with doctor-diagnosed chronic bronchitis, and 14 (4%) individuals with doctor-diagnosed emphysema. They had these diagnoses for a mean of 10.4 years (range, 0-50 years). Thirty-three (9%) individuals who did not have doctor-diagnosed disease had wheezing or whistling when they breathed and shortness of breath or cough with exercise. Of those 125 individuals with doctor-diagnosed disease or symptoms suggestive of OAD, only 22 (18%) individuals took their prescribed medications on a regular basis. Symptoms of OAD appear to be common in the disadvantaged elderly in Chicago. Based on these results, 92 (24%) individuals had doctor-diagnosed asthma, chronic bronchitis, and/or emphysema. The majority did not take their medications regularly. Another 33 (9%) individuals had symptoms compatible with OAD that had not been diagnosed or treated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-173
Number of pages5
JournalAllergy and asthma proceedings
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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