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      Chronic Cough and Phlegm in Subjects Undergoing Comprehensive Health Examination in Japan – Survey of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients Epidemiology in Japan (SCOPE-J)

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          The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of subjects with chronic cough and phlegm and describe their characteristics including the presence or absence of airflow limitation among the general population in Japan.

          Subjects and Methods

          This was an observational cross-sectional survey targeting multiple regions of Japan. Subjects aged 40 years or above who were undergoing comprehensive health examination were recruited. The existence of chronic cough and phlegm, airflow limitation, and treatment for respiratory diseases were examined. Chronic cough and phlegm were defined as having both symptoms for at least 3 months of the year and for at least 2 consecutive years, or as receiving any treatment for chronic bronchitis at the time of recruitment. Airflow limitation was defined as forced expiratory volume in 1 s/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) less than 0.7.


          In a total of 22,293 subjects, 380 subjects (1.7%) had chronic cough and phlegm. Among these 380 subjects, 21.8% received treatment for a respiratory disease, and 11.6% had airflow limitation. Compared to subjects without both chronic cough and phlegm but with airflow limitation, subjects with chronic cough and phlegm without airflow limitation were younger, more likely to be current smokers (39.6%), and had higher total scores on a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) assessment test (CAT). Scores of CAT questions 1–4 (cough, phlegm, chest tightness, breathlessness, respectively) were higher in subjects with chronic cough and phlegm regardless of airflow limitation.


          This study demonstrated that subjects identified to have chronic cough and phlegm in comprehensive health examination settings were symptomatic, while most of them did not receive any treatment for respiratory diseases and did not have airflow limitation. Screening subjects for chronic cough and phlegm in a comprehensive health examination followed by a detailed examination of screened subjects could be an effective approach for better management of chronic cough and phlegm. Smoking cessation should be included in the management, in consideration that around 40% of subjects with chronic cough and phlegm were current smokers.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Standards for the diagnosis and care of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. This official statement of the American Thoracic Society was adopted by the ATS Board of Directors, November 1986.

           APA Standards (1987)
          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are the major causes of pulmonary disability in the United States, with at least 10 million Americans suffering form COPD and up to 5% of the population afflicted with asthma. Over the past 20 years, major strides have been made in our understanding of the pathophysiology of these disorders, although there are still large gaps in our knowledge. While a number of position papers and statements have been promulgated by the American Thoracic Society concerning various aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of COPD and asthma, it was felt that a review of the overall topic was timely. This statement represents the combined efforts of a Task Group appointed by the Scientific Assemble of Clinical Problems of the American Thoracic Society to accomplish this task. Clearly, we could not cover every aspect of this broad topic nor even provide a detailed review of those areas addressed. We elected instead to concentrate on clinically relevant topics and to provide sufficient data to be useful as a guide as well as to include selected, but in no was exhaustive, references. The first two chapters define the entities and set forth recommendations for diagnosis, hospital admission, and discharge. The remaining four chapters critically review the various facets of therapy. We have noted controversial areas and those were conclusive experimental data are not yet available. In these situations, the committee often decided to take a position on one side or the other based upon the best available information.
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            The pathology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

            The pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is based on the innate and adaptive inflammatory immune response to the inhalation of toxic particles and gases. Although tobacco smoking is the primary cause of this inhalation injury, many other environmental and occupational exposures contribute to the pathology of COPD. The immune inflammatory changes associated with COPD are linked to a tissue-repair and -remodeling process that increases mucus production and causes emphysematous destruction of the gas-exchanging surface of the lung. The common form of emphysema observed in smokers begins in the respiratory bronchioles near the thickened and narrowed small bronchioles that become the major site of obstruction in COPD. The mechanism(s) that allow small airways to thicken in such close proximity to lung tissue undergoing emphysematous destruction remains a puzzle that needs to be solved.
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              Currently, the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requires a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) to forced vital capacity (FVC) of less than 0.70 as assessed by spirometry after bronchodilator use. However, many smokers who do not meet this definition have respiratory symptoms.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                15 April 2020
                : 15
                : 765-773
                [1 ]Department of Biomedical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University , Kumamoto, Japan
                [2 ]Japanese Red Cross Kumamoto Health Care Center , Kumamoto, Japan
                [3 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Hitachi General Hospital , Hitachi, Japan
                [4 ]Center for Preventive Medical Treatment, Olive Takamatsu Medical Clinic , Takamatsu, Japan
                [5 ]Japan Development Division, GlaxoSmithKline K.K ., Tokyo, Japan
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Toshihiko Kaise Japan Development Division , GlaxoSmithKline K.K., 1-8-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo107-0052, JapanTel +81 80 5927 9500Fax +81 3 4231 5993 Email
                © 2020 Omori et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, References: 40, Pages: 9
                Original Research


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