BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Saudi Arabia is unknown. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of COPD among smokers more than 40 years of age attending primary healthcare clinics in Saudi Arabia.
DESIGN AND SETTING:
A questionnaire was used in a cross-sectional collection of demographic data and other items related to diagnosis of COPD in patients visiting primary healthcare clinics.
Eligible subjects were current or ex-smokers and aged 40 years or above. Spirometry was performed according to American Thoracic Society criteria. Airflow obstruction was classified according to the 2003 update of the World Health Organization and Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease criteria. COPD was defined as a ratio less than 0.70 of post-bronchodilator-predicted forced expiratory volume in the first second to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC <0.70).
Because of incomplete data or poor performance on spirometry, of 1380 subjects eligible for the study, only 501 subjects were eligible for data analysis. Seventy-one patients had an FEV1/FVC ratio <0.70, comprising 14.2% of the study population, of which 95.8% were males. Current smokers comprised 57 (80.3%) subjects. Of the 71 subjects who fulfilled the criteria for COPD diagnosis, none were found to be in COPD stage I; 40 (56.3%) were in stage II and 31 (43.6%) were in stage III of the disease.
Underdiagnosis of COPD in primary healthcare clinics in Saudi Arabia is common, but its extent is not different from the corresponding data available in the literature for other countries. Use of spirometry as a routine test for all patients older than 40 years of age and with a smoking history can help in early detection and proper diagnosis of COPD, which subsequently will help in implementation of preventive measures.