Spirometric Reference Values for an East-African Population

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Accurate interpretation of lung function testing requires appropriate reference values. Unfortunately, few African countries have produced spirometric reference values for their populations.


The present study was carried out in order to establish normal lung function values for subjects living in Rwanda, East Africa.


The study was conducted in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, and in the rural district of Huye in southern Rwanda. The variables studied were forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC) and peak expiratory flow. Multiple regression analysis was performed using age, height, weight and BMI as independent variables to obtain predicted equations for both sexes.


Predicted equations for normal lung functions were obtained from 740 healthy nonsmoking subjects; 394 were females and 346 were males. Minor differences in FEV1 and FVC were observed in comparison with other studies of Africans, African-Americans (difference in FEV1 and FVC of less than 5%), Chinese and Indians. When compared with selected studies from Caucasians and white Americans, our results for FEV1 and FVC were 9-12% and 16-18% lower in men and 12-23% and 17-28% lower in women, respectively.


This study provides reference values for pulmonary function in a healthy, nonsmoking Rwandan population and enables comparisons to be made with other prediction equations from other populations. Spirometric reference values in our study were similar to those obtained in a study of black Americans by Hankinson et al. [Am J Crit Care Med 1999;159:179-187].

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