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A community survey of respiratory disease among East Indian and African adults in Guyana
  1. G. J. Miller,
  2. M. T. Ashcroft
  1. Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

    Abstract

    The belief that chronic bronchitis is more prevalent among Indians than Africans in the Caribbean area was investigated by a community survey in Guyana. Respiratory symptoms were assessed by a standard questionnaire, ventilatory capacities were measured, and chest radiographs were taken of some 800 African and Indian men and women aged 35 to 54 years living in adjacent and similar communities. Histories of morning cough, chronic cough, morning phlegm, and chronic phlegm (chronic bronchitis) were more common in Indians than Africans. Although these respiratory symptoms were much more common in smokers than non-smokers, the higher prevalence rates in Indians could not be explained by smoking habits which were similar in the two races. Chronic bronchitis occurred in 17·3% of Indian and 2·4% of African male smokers and in 16·1% and 2·2% of Indian and African female non-smokers respectively. Judging by the history, lung function, and clinical signs, chronic bronchitis was more severe in Indians than Africans. The condition was more common among field labourers on sugar estates but, although the majority of field labourers were Indian, this occupational difference only partially explained the difference in prevalence between Indians and Africans. Indians, for reasons unknown, appear to have a greater susceptibility than Africans to chronic bronchitis.

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