Action Against Asthma: A Strategic Plan for the Department of Health and Human Services . Terminology


(A listing of all abbreviations and acronyms used in this publication appears in Appendix K.)

Ambulatory care: Medical care provided at hospital emergency rooms and outpatient departments.

Asthma: A lung disease characterized by airway constriction, mucus secretion, and chronic inflammation, resulting in reduced airflow and wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.

Chronic bronchitis: A lung disease characterized by the presence of chronic productive cough most days for 3 months in each of 2 successive years.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A lung disease characterized by airflow obstruction due to chronic bronchitis and emphysema, two diseases that often occur together. COPD is one of the most common respiratory conditions among adults worldwide and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Dyspnea: Shortness of breath.

Emphysema: Abnormal permanent enlargement of the airspaces in the lungs accompanied by coughing and difficulty breathing.

Epidemiologic studies: Studies of disease occurrence.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): An illness characterized by snoring, partial or complete cessation of breathing during sleep, reductions in blood oxygen levels, severe sleep disruptions, and excessive daytime sleepiness. OSA is a chronic breathing problem with serious effects on individual health and productivity, including an inheritable risk of sudden infant deaths, behavior and learning disturbances, injury from accidents, and reduced quality of life.

Rate: The basic measure of disease occurrence that most clearly expresses the probability of risk of disease in a defined population over a specified period of time. A rate is defined as:

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