Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease leading to morbidity, mortality and impaired quality of life worldwide. Information on asthma prevalence in the Middle East is fragmented and relatively out-dated. The SNAPSHOT program was conducted to obtain updated information.
SNAPSHOT is a cross-sectional epidemiological program carried out in five Middle Eastern countries (Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the latter three grouped into a Gulf cluster) to collect data on asthma, allergic rhinitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia and bipolar disorder. The survey was carried out by telephone in a random sample of the adult general population with quotas defined according to country demographics. The analysis presented in this paper focuses on asthma. Subjects were screened for asthma based on criteria from the global Asthma Insights and Reality studies. Current prevalence (last 12 months) was estimated. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to investigate risk factors related to asthma and the association with allergic rhinitis and other co-morbidities. Quality of life was assessed using the three-level EQ-5D questionnaire.
2124 out of the 33,486 subjects enrolled in the SNAPSHOT program fulfilled the criteria for asthma. The adjusted prevalence of asthma ranged from 4.4% [95% CI: 4.0–4.8%] in Turkey, to 6.7% [95% CI: 6.2–7.2%] in Egypt and 7.6% [95% CI: 7.1–8.0%] in the Gulf cluster. Prevalence was higher (p < 0.0001) in women than men and increased with age (p < 0.0001). Co-morbidities occurred more frequently in asthma subjects compared to the non-asthma population (38% vs. 15% p < 0.0001). Subjects with asthma reported a lower (p < 0.0001) EQ-VAS score (68.2 ± 22.9) compared to the general population (78.1 ± 17.5). The risk factors associated with asthma were age, gender, country, and certain co-morbidities, namely respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, nervous, and neurological diseases.
The observed adjusted prevalence of asthma in the Middle East ranges from 4.4% to 7.6%, which is comparatively lower than the reported prevalence in Europe and North America. Asthma has a negative impact on quality of life, and is associated with high levels of co-morbid diseases, indicating a need for physicians to check for co-morbidities and ensure they are managed correctly in all asthma patients.