Obstructive airway diseases, which include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and constitute the only common cause of death that is increasing in prevalence. Among other diseases, the total public health burden of obstructive airway diseases is expected to rank fifth by 2020.2 The recognition of obstructive airway disease as a public health problem, however, has failed to keep pace with its increasing impact on health-care resources.
Although morbidity data are not available, death from obstructive airway disease has more than doubled from 1983 to 2000 in Korea. Unfortunately, further increases in mortality from obstructive airway disease are expected to continue with the aging of the Korean population and the growing use of cigarettes among younger individuals, with alarming increases among young women. Source
For both morbidity and mortality, almost all of the information that is available on the prevalence of obstructive airway disease comes from Western countries. Although some studies- have demonstrated ethnic differences in the prevalence of obstructive airway disease, few have been carried out among Asian descendents living in the United States, This is the first population-based study of airway obstruction in Korea, and possibly in Asia. Its purpose was to describe the prevalence and correlates of airway obstruction in a Korean community.
Materials and Methods
The study was performed in the southwestern part of Seoul, South Korea, in a region called Ansan City, which has been characterized as a newly industrialized community with rural origins. The data for this study were randomly selected from a larger sample of Ansan City residents. The larger sample represented approximately 1.3% of 362,656 adults (4,700 persons) who were aged > 18 years in the city register in 1998.