Prevalence and severity of differing dimensions of breathlessness among elderly males in the population

Publication Name

ERJ Open Research


Breathlessness is common in the general population. Existing data were obtained primarily with the uni-dimensional modified Medical Research Council breathlessness scale (mMRC) that does not assess intensities of unpleasantness nor physical, emotional and affective dimensions. The aim of this research was to determine the prevalence and intensity of these dimensions of breathlessness in elderly males and any associations with their duration, change over time and mMRC grade. We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional study of 73-year-old males in a county in southern Sweden. Breathlessness was self-reported at one time point using a postal survey including the Dyspnea-12 (D-12), the Multidimensional Dyspnea Profile (MDP) and the mMRC. Presence of an increased dimension score was defined as a score ⩾minimal clinically important difference for each dimension scale. Association with the mMRC, recalled change since age 65, and duration of breathlessness were analysed with linear regression. Among 907 men, an increased dimension score was present in 17% (D-12 total score), 33% (MDP A1 unpleasantness), 19% (D-12 physical), 17% (MDP immediate perception), 10% (D-12 affective) and 17% (MDP emotional response). The unpleasantness and affective dimensions were strongly associated with mMRC⩾3. Higher MDP and D-12 scores were associated with worsening of breathlessness since age 65, and higher MDP A1 unpleasantness was associated with breathlessness of less than 1 year duration. Increased scores of several dimensions of breathlessness are prevalent in 73-year-old males and are positively correlated with mMRC scores, worsening of breathlessness after age 65, and duration of less than 1 year.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor




Link to publisher version (DOI)