Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Norway: Most COPD patients in southern, eastern regions

Date:
May 19, 2014
Source:
SINTEF
Summary:
COPD mainly affects people in eastern and southern Norway and some municipalities in Finnmark. And smoking is not the only cause. Researchers have conducted one of the world's first population studies into COPD by extracting and linking data from various national registers. "Our focus has been on socio-economic causes and gender differences", says one researcher. "As far as we know, there have been many studies on COPD in other countries, but only on a regional scale – not on entire populations."

The researchers believe that there is reason to believe that female COPD patients will become the majority in years to come.
Credit: Image courtesy of SINTEF

COPD mainly affects people in eastern and southern Norway and some municipalities in Finnmark. And smoking is not the only cause.

The findings are thanks to researchers at SINTEF Technology. They have conducted one of the world's first population studies into COPD by extracting and linking data from various national registers. These include registers held by Statistics Norway, the Norwegian Patient Register and the Norwegian Prescription Databases.

The rules governing the use of national registers have changed in Norway in recent years, and when the project on the causes and spread of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) started in 2009, this gave us an ideal opportunity to extract data on the entire Norwegian population.

"Our focus has been on socio-economic causes and gender differences," say Thomas Halvorsen and Pål Martinussen at SINTEF. "As far as we know, there have been many studies on COPD in other countries, but only on a regional scale -- not on entire populations. Since we have now been able to make connections at an individual level, we can demonstrate that it is the inland parts of eastern Norway, as well as municipalities in southern Norway that have the most COPD patients. Women and men both follow the same geographic pattern."

Many COPD patients not diagnosed

There is not much information about the exact number of Norwegians with COPD. The estimates show that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 people with the disease, but that the number whose diagnosis has been confirmed is much higher than that. It is possible to use the Norwegian Prescription Database to estimate how many are receiving medication for the disease. In 2009 it was around 67,000.

"There are a great many undiagnosed COPD patients," says Halvorsen. "The first COPD symptoms are often mistaken for common infections or asthma, and many people put off going to see their doctor."

Smoking not the only factor

Smoking has always been linked to COPD as its most obvious cause, but when the researchers compared the distribution of COPD patients in Norway with a map showing the distribution of Norwegian smokers, they saw that the two did not match. "We found no clear concurrence between the two factors. We created maps for the 1996-2000 period, which show smokers at county level. It is apparent from these maps that most smokers are in Finnmark, with relatively few male smokers in eastern Norway, even though the incidence of COPD appears to be high there. This may mean that there are other significant causal factors." So the researchers obtained information about socio-economic factors at municipality level (income, civil status, employment status), and studied whether this information could be related to the risk of COPD.

"We saw that the lower the level of education in the population, the higher was the risk of COPD. Education and income are related to how you live/what you eat/whether you exercise, etc. In professions with a low level of education, you may be exposed to more smoking, and diet is also determined by socio-economic status to some degree."

Access to fresh air?

The researchers found that fewer people have COPD in municipalities dominated by agriculture and fisheries industries. For example, it is much less widespread in western Norway and the outer fjords. This is related to fresh air, and the fact that people in the primary industries are outside for longer. The life expectancy of people in these areas is also higher.

"We also know that there is more environmental pollution in inland eastern Norway than in western Norway, and this is also related to COPD," says Halvorsen. The study concludes by saying that there are several risk factors. Smoking is still the most significant, but many other factors appear to play a role.

Women catching up In line with other studies into age and COPD, we can see that men aged seventy and over have a higher risk than women, since the men as a group have been exposed to more cigarette smoke during their lives. But the gap between the genders is steadily decreasing, and in the population below seventy, women have begun to catch up with men.

The researchers believe that there is reason to believe that female COPD patients will become the majority in years to come. A number of studies also indicate that women can be more physically susceptible and therefore have a lower tolerance to cigarette smoke than men.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SINTEF. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

SINTEF. "Norway: Most COPD patients in southern, eastern regions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519091933.htm>.
SINTEF. (2014, May 19). Norway: Most COPD patients in southern, eastern regions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519091933.htm
SINTEF. "Norway: Most COPD patients in southern, eastern regions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519091933.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins