WORLD TRADE CENTER HEALTH EFFECTS LINGER YEARS LATER

New research confirms that responders to the World Trade Center (WTC) attack are still experiencing health effects more than 5 years later. In a new study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, researchers compared baseline respiratory examinations in WTC responders with follow-up examinations that occurred a minimum of 18 months after baseline. At the follow-up examination, 24.1 percent of 3,160 individuals still had abnormal spirometry findings, with the predominant defect being a low forced vital capacity (FVC). Results also found that the majority of WTC responders had normal decline in lung function between the baseline and follow-up exams, but initial bronchodilator response and weight gain were significantly associated with greater-than-normal lung function declines. Researchers conclude that the continued presence of lung function abnormalities in WTC responders warrants longer-term monitoring. This study is published in the February issue of the journal CHEST.

ARM SPAN-HEIGHT RATIO LINKED TO RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS

Arm span is regularly used as an alternative measurement for standing height, when measurement of standing height is not possible. New research from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom suggests that the discrepancy between arm span length and actual standing height may be linked to respiratory problems in the elderly. Researchers evaluated the clinical history, physical examination, arm span, standing height, weight, FEV1 and FVC of 66 patients with a mean age of 71 years. Results showed that an increase in arm span-height ratio was significantly negatively correlated with FEV1 and FVC and positively correlated with dyspnea. Researchers conclude that the role of arm span measurement in assessing airflow volumes in the elderly deserves further investigation. This study is published in the February issue of the journal CHEST.

MYTH: KIDS WITH ASTHMA MISS MORE SCHOOL THAN THEIR CLASSMATES

For years, it has been widely believed that children with asthma miss considerably more school than children without asthma. However, new research finds that this may not be the case. Researchers from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas investigated school absence rates in 328 4th-6th grade students identified as possibly asthmatic who underwent spirometry and/or exercise testing. Among students with possible asthma, 157 had a positive spirometry/exercise test score, while 171 had a negative score. Researchers then compared yearly absence rates between these two groups of students, as well as between 4th-6th graders in 19 study schools and the district. Results showed that school absence rates of each group were within 1 percent of each other. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the absence rates of students who had abnormal spirometry results compared with the overall study schools or the district -moreschools. Researchers conclude that any differences in asthma-related school attendance rates are academically insignificant. This study is published in the February issue of the journal CHEST.

PREOPERATIVE SMOKING CESSATION COUNSEL SAVES MONEY

Research shows that smokers are more likely to develop postoperative complications than nonsmokers, but new research suggests that smoking cessation counseling prior to scheduled surgery could reduce complications and save money. In the study, French researchers performed a cost-benefit analysis of preoperative intervention for smoking cessation (PISC) and its impact on hospitalization costs. Results indicated that the reduction in complications after PISC reduces the average cost of a hospital stay by an average of 313 euros per patient (about $400). This study is published in the February issue of the journal CHEST.

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Source: Jennifer Stawarz
American College of Chest Physicians

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