News briefs from the journal Chest, June 2004

06/02/04

DECLINING ASTHMA RATES IN MEXICO MAY INDICATE END OF EPIDEMIC
Researchers from Mexico have found that the number of asthma-associated health services have recently declined in Mexico, suggesting that the epidemic of new asthma cases is ending in the country. Researchers investigated the number of health services provided to asthma patients from 1991 to 2001 by the largest nationwide medical institution, which is utilized by one-third of the country's insured population. Results showed that asthma-associated health services provided to patients increased until 1997, whereby the number of services sharply declined through 2001. The number of total health services followed a similar trend. In addition, age-adjusted rates of newly diagnosed asthmatics showed an initial increase in patients under age 65, followed by a plateau between 1995 and 1997, and then a decline, while patients over age 65 showed a continuous decreasing trend throughout the decade. Researchers suspect that the substantial decline in asthma-related health services may be due to more effective disease control, as well as milder forms of newly diagnosed asthma. The study appears in the June issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

THE HIGH COST OF COMMUNITY-ACQUIRED PNEUMONIA
Researchers estimate the cost of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in the US to be $12.2 billion annually, almost $4 billion higher than previous estimates. In the first study to analyze employer payments for hospitalized and nonhospitalized non-Medicare patients with CAP, researchers from Washington DC, Boston, MA, and Bridgewater, NJ, analyzed data from a 1996-1998 employer administrative claims database for employees and their descendants under the age of 65. For the 6,415 individuals with CAP, who had a combined total of 7,249 episodes, the treatment costs varied by episode severity, with averages of $10,227 for impatient CAP episodes, $15,822 for inpatients who died while hospitalized, $9,595 for patients admitted then discharged from the hospital, and $466 for outpatient episodes. Based on the 1997 US Census figures, which estimate a 1.9% incidence rate of CAP, translating to more than 5 million annual cases, researchers concluded the US economic impact of CAP treatment in patients under age 65 to be $12.2 billion. This cost is even higher when people 65 and older are included. The study appears in the June issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

FLU VACCINE MAY PREVENT RESPIRATORY ILLNESS IN PATIENTS WITH COPD
Researchers have determined the influenza vaccination to be highly effective in the prevention of influenza-related acute respiratory illness (ARI) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, Bangkok researchers administered the influenza vaccine to 62 patients with COPD, mean age 67, and compared results with the placebo group of 63 patients, mean age 69, over the course 18 months. The overall effectiveness of the vaccine was 76 percent, as compared to 30-50 percent effectiveness rates in similar elderly populations. In addition, patients in the vaccine group had significantly lower incidences of influenza-related ARI and outpatient visits than patients in the placebo group. The influenza vaccination did not prevent ARIs unrelated to influenza virus infection. The influenza virus can often lead to the exacerbation of COPD, and, therefore, researchers recommend that all patients with COPD receive the vaccination. The study appears in the June issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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