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Sy DQ, Thanh Binh MH, Quoc NT, Hung NV, Quynh Nhu DT, Bao NQ, Khiet LQ, Hai TD, Raffard M, Aelony Y, Homasson JP
Correspondence: Dr Jean-Paul Homasson, email@example.com
Introduction No data has been reported on the prevalence of asthma in highland rural areas of Vietnam. We attempt to determine the prevalence of asthma and asthma-like symptoms in Dalat, a Vietnamese city at 1,500 m altitude, and to learn about environmental influences, patient attitudes toward diagnosis and treatment, and the prevalent general knowledge about asthma.
Methods Investigators were trained in the use of formal questionnaires. After an extensive publicity campaign by local television, the investigators randomly selected homes for interviews in 12 districts. When physician-diagnosed asthma or asthma-like symptoms were identified, all parts of the questionnaire were completed and a more detailed visit was arranged with the patients, for clinical examination, spirometry and skin tests for important allergens.
Results 9,984 individuals were interviewed, of whom 243 were identified as having asthma or asthma-like symptoms, giving a prevalence of 2.4 percent. Average age was 48 +/- 27 years, age at onset of asthma was 25 +/- 22 years. Hospitalisation had been required in 18.3 percent of patients during 2003. Daily asthma treatment was used by only 17 percent of patients. 34 percent used inhalers and 6 percent used nebulisation. 52.3 percent had associated atopic features. Polyvalent positive prick tests were prevalent, but no one reacted to a pollen mixture. General knowledge about asthma was lacking.
Conclusion The prevalence of asthma and asthma-like symptoms in Dalat is low. Allergic cutaneous reactions to house mites predominate. Diagnosis and treatment of those afflicted with asthma appears to be suboptimal. The study highlights the need for further patient education and for preventative interventions for asthma sufferers in this region.
Keywords: allergies, asthma, asthma-like symptoms
Singapore Med J 2007; 48(4): 294–303