Emphysema Prevalence Higher in Black Adults

Spirometry measures predicted based on race-specific equations may result in underrecognition of lung disease in Black adults, authors say

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TUESDAY, May 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Black adults have a significantly higher prevalence of emphysema than White adults, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2022 International Conference, held from May 13 to 18 in San Francisco.

Gabrielle Liu, M.D., from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues compared the prevalence of emphysema between Black and White men and women with normal lung function, with the goal of examining whether the use of race-based normative reference values may underdetect lung disease in Black adults. The analysis included 2,674 participants in the CARDIA study with both a computed tomography scan at a mean age of 50 years and spirometry at a mean age of 55 years.

The researchers found that among individuals with a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) between 80 and 99 percent predicted, Black men had a significantly higher prevalence of emphysema than White men (15.5 versus 4.0 percent) and Black women had a higher prevalence of emphysema than White women (6.9 versus 3.2 percent). Similarly, among individuals with an FEV1 between 100 and 120 percent predicted, Black men had a higher prevalence of emphysema than White men (14.6 versus 1.7 percent), but rates were similar between Black and White women (3.8 versus 1.9 percent). Black men and women with an FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio of at least the lower limit of normal had a significantly higher prevalence of emphysema than White men and women, respectively.

"Our traditional measures of lung health based on race-specific spirometry may be considerably underrecognizing impaired respiratory health in Black individuals," Liu said in a statement.

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