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BACKGROUND: The prevalence and clinical profile of asthma with airflow obstruction (AO) remain uncertain. We aimed to phenotype AO in population- and clinic-based cohorts. METHODS: This cross-sectional multicohort study included adults ≥50 years from nine CADSET cohorts with spirometry data (N=69 789). AO was defined as ever diagnosed asthma with pre-BD or post-BD FEV1/FVC <0.7 in population-based and clinic-based cohorts, respectively. Clinical characteristics and comorbidities of AO were compared with asthma without airflow obstruction (asthma-only) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) without asthma history (COPD-only). ORs for comorbidities adjusted for age, sex, smoking status and body mass index (BMI) were meta-analysed using a random effects model. RESULTS: The prevalence of AO was 2.1% (95% CI 2.0% to 2.2%) in population-based, 21.1% (95% CI 18.6% to 23.8%) in asthma-based and 16.9% (95% CI 15.8% to 17.9%) in COPD-based cohorts. AO patients had more often clinically relevant dyspnoea (modified Medical Research Council score ≥2) than asthma-only (+14.4 and +14.7 percentage points) and COPD-only (+24.0 and +5.0 percentage points) in population-based and clinic-based cohorts, respectively. AO patients had more often elevated blood eosinophil counts (>300 cells/µL), although only significant in population-based cohorts. Compared with asthma-only, AO patients were more often men, current smokers, with a lower BMI, had less often obesity and had more often chronic bronchitis. Compared with COPD-only, AO patients were younger, less often current smokers and had less pack-years. In the general population, AO patients had a higher risk of coronary artery disease than asthma-only and COPD-only (OR=2.09 (95% CI 1.26 to 3.47) and OR=1.89 (95% CI 1.10 to 3.24), respectively) and of depression (OR=1.41 (95% CI 1.19 to 1.67)), osteoporosis (OR=2.30 (95% CI 1.43 to 3.72)) and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (OR=1.68 (95% CI 1.06 to 2.68)) than COPD-only, independent of age, sex, smoking status and BMI. CONCLUSIONS: AO is a relatively prevalent respiratory phenotype associated with more dyspnoea and a higher risk of coronary artery disease and elevated blood eosinophil counts in the general population compared with both asthma-only and COPD-only.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open Respir Res

Publication Date





Asthma, Asthma Epidemiology, COPD epidemiology, Clinical Epidemiology, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Male, Humans, Coronary Artery Disease, Cross-Sectional Studies, Asthma, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Dyspnea