Prevalence of Asthma Characteristics in COPD Patients in a Dutch Well-Established Asthma/COPD Service for Primary Care

Anna Jetske Baron*, Bertine M. J. Flokstra-de Blok, Ellen van Heijst, Roland A. Riemersma, Agnes M. M. Sonnenschein-van der Voort, Esther Metting, Janwillem W. H. Kocks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
173 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Primary care COPD guidelines indicate that COPD patients with asthma characteristics should be treated as having asthma. This study aims to describe the prevalence of asthma characteristics in patients with a pulmonologist-confirmed working diagnosis of COPD or ACO. Patients and Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study used real-life data (collected between 2007 and 2017) from a Dutch asthma/COPD-service, a structured web-based system in which pulmonologists support general practitioners in their diagnosis of patients with suspicion of obstructive lung disease. The prevalence of asthma characteristics (history of asthma, atopy, symptoms, and reversibility) and blood eosinophil (Eos) counts were assessed in patients with a working diagnosis of COPD or ACO. Results: Of the 14,141 patients, ≥40 years in the dataset, 4475 (31.6%) were diagnosed with asthma, 3532 (25.0%) with COPD, and 1276 (9.0%) with ACO. Asthma characteristics were present in 65.6% (n=1956) of the COPD and 90.9% (n=1059) of the ACO patients. Eos counts of ≥ 300 cells per μL were found in 35.7% (n=924) of the COPD patients and 35.3% (n=341) of the ACO patients. Conclusion: In this group of COPD and ACO patients remotely diagnosed by pulmonologists, a substantial proportion would be considered to have asthma characteristics according to the guidelines. This may explain the high number of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) prescriptions found in primary care COPD patients. Prospective studies are necessary to identify patients who may or may not benefit from ICS containing treatment. Hence, personalized care in primary care can be optimized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1601-1611
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Publication statusPublished - 4-Feb-2020


  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • asthma COPD overlap
  • asthma characteristics
  • guidelines
  • RISK

Cite this