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Respiratory Problems

Inhaled Corticosteroids Raise Pneumonia Risk for Lung Disease Sufferers

Respiratory ProblemsNov 26 08

Lung disease experts at Johns Hopkins are calling for physicians to show much greater caution in prescribing inhaled corticosteroid drugs for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after finding evidence that the widely used anti-inflammatory medications increase the risk of pneumonia by a full third.

More than 11 million Americans, the vast majority former or current smokers, are living with so-called COPD, marked by the potentially fatal, lung-diminishing conditions of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The inhalers in question greatly relieve such symptoms as shortness of breath, wheezing, phlegm and physical exhaustion from light exercise.

The call for caution is based on the Johns Hopkins team’s review and analysis of adverse events recorded in 11 clinical studies that in total involved more than 14,000 men and women with COPD. The team’s review, believed to be the largest and most comprehensive performed in the last decade among COPD sufferers, compared adverse events among those who took inhaled corticosteroids and others who did not.

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Pneumonia may raise risk of sudden heart trouble

Heart • • Respiratory ProblemsOct 28 08

People who are hospitalized with bacterial pneumonia are nearly eight times more likely to suffer heart attack or other “acute coronary syndrome” within 15 days of admission than are their peers hospitalized for other conditions, new research suggests.

Moreover, the results indicate that individuals with bacterial pneumonia are at much greater risk for acute heart-related “events” in the days following admission than they are 1 year before or after hospitalization.

Dr. Vicente F. Corrales-Medina from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston presented his team’s findings this week at the combined annual meeting of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in Washington, DC.

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Healing process found to backfire in lung patients

Respiratory ProblemsOct 27 08

A mechanism in the body which typically helps a person heal from an injury, may actually be causing patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) to get worse, researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and their collaborators have found.

“We identified a new mechanism that explains why some patients with IPF get more short of breath than others, in spite of similar levels of lung scarring,” said Stavros Garantziotis, M.D., an NIEHS staff clinician and lead author on the new paper highlighted on the cover of the Nov. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is an incurable lung disease that affects approximately 50,000 people in the United States. In IPF, the lung tissue becomes scarred and patients have difficulty breathing, often resulting in death. The cause is unknown, though genes as well as environmental factors such as smoking and exposure to metal dust particles, are thought to raise the risk.

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Chronic lung disease common in older adults

Respiratory Problems • • Tobacco & MarijuanaOct 09 08

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death globally, and one of every four men and one of every six women will develop COPD if they live to be 95 years old.

Those are the latest findings of the ongoing, population-based Rotterdam Study, presented here this week at the 18th Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society.

COPD is primarily cause by two principal diseases, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, both of which are strongly linked to smoking. A primary symptom is the difficulty and ultimately inability to move air through the lungs. The symptoms are severely disabling and have life-threatening complications. An estimated 12 million people in the United States have COPD.

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Pertussis: Adults can fall severely ill too

Children's Health • • Respiratory ProblemsSep 25 08

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is not just a childhood disease. The pathogen Bordetella pertussis is highly infectious and an infection may occur at any age. The risk of a pertussis infection can be greatly reduced by vaccination, as Marion Riffelmann of the Krefeld Institute for Infectious Diseases and her colleagues report in the current Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105(37): 623-8).


Pertussis is actually one of the classical diseases of childhood and mainly occurs in unvaccinated babies.

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More marital happiness = less sleep complaints

Respiratory Problems • • Sleep AidJun 09 08

Marital happiness may lower the risk of sleep problems in Caucasian women, while marital strife may heighten the risk, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study, authored by Wendy M. Troxel, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh, focused on 1938 married women from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, a multi-site study of mid-life women, with an average age of 46 years. Out of the study participants, 51 percent were Caucasian, 20 percent African-American, 9 percent Hispanic, nine percent Chinese, and 11 percent Japanese. The subjects reported their marital happiness, sleep quality and frequency of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or early morning awakenings.

According to the results, higher levels of marital happiness were associated with a lesser risk of having multiple sleep complaints, but only among Caucasian women. Happily married women had less difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, fewer early morning awakenings, and more restful sleep as compared to unhappily married women.

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HIV drives children’s pneumonia in sub-Saharan Africa

AIDS/HIV • • Respiratory ProblemsJun 05 08

Pneumonia in HIV-positive children is proving to be a challenge across sub-Saharan Africa. Claire Keeton reports from Cape Town.

Nokhwezi Hoboyi knows about the devastation of pneumonia after losing her first two babies to the disease.

The 27-year-old mother from Cape Town saw her first child die of pneumonia at four months of age. Her second child started coughing at two months and was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was hospitalized, became ill at three months and did not respond to antibiotics.

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Paralysed Israeli paints with his eyes

Eye / Vision Problems • • Respiratory ProblemsJun 04 08

First his arms and legs stopped working, then his respiratory system. Now Rahamim Melamed-Cohen can hardly speak and sits motionless in a wheelchair except for the barely visible flicker of his eyes.

But thanks to technology and his own tenacity, the 70-year-old Israeli has harnessed the power of those tiny eye movements to write books, compose music, and now create pictures that have been made into a book and shown at a Jerusalem exhibition.

“Most people paint with their hands, some use their toes, others use their mouths - but I paint with my eyes,” Melamed-Cohen wrote in the forward to his recently published book “With a blink of an eye”.

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Sleep apnea tied to post-op trouble: study

Respiratory Problems • • Sleep AidMay 26 08

People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are at increased risk of experiencing complications after elective surgery, researchers report.

In obstructive sleep apnea, the back of the throat collapses periodically during sleep, and breathing stops for a few moments until the patient wakens enough to resume breathing.

Dr. Dennis Hwang at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems, New Hyde Park, New York and colleagues studied 172 patients with features of sleep apnea who were being assessed prior to elective surgery. The patients underwent home nighttime oximetry to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and to establish the incidence of “oxygen desaturation,” which is used to assess the extent of sleep apnea episodes.

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Green tea may shield brain from sleep apnea effects

Respiratory ProblemsMay 19 08

Compounds found in green tea may help ward off the neurological damage that can come with the breathing disorder sleep apnea, a new animal study hints.

Researchers found that when they added green tea antioxidants to rats’ drinking water, it appeared to protect the animals’ brains during bouts of oxygen deprivation designed to mimic the effects of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The findings suggest that green tea compounds should be further studied as a potential OSA therapy, the researchers report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Antipsychotic Drugs Increase Risk of Developing Pneumonia in Elderly

Respiratory ProblemsApr 15 08

Elderly patients who use antipsychotic drugs have a 60 percent increased risk of developing pneumonia compared to non-users. This risk is highest in the first week following prescription and decreases gradually thereafter. These findings are published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Antipsychotic drugs are frequently used in elderly patients for the treatment of psychosis and behavioral problems associated with dementia and delirium. This study is the first to show that the development of pneumonia is associated with antipsychotic drug use.

“The risk of developing pneumonia is not associated with long-term use, but is the highest shortly after starting the drug,” say Drs. Rob van Marum and Wilma Knol, authors of the study. They caution that “all antipsychotic drugs may be associated with pneumonia in elderly patients.”

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Popcorn ingredient causes lung disease: U.S. study

Respiratory ProblemsMar 13 08

A chemical used to give butter flavor to popcorn can damage the lungs and airways of mice, U.S. government experts reported on Thursday.

Tests on mice show that diacetyl, a component of artificial butter flavoring, can cause a condition known as lymphocytic bronchiolitis, said the team at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The condition can lead to obliterative bronchiolitis—or “popcorn lung”—a rare and debilitating disease seen in workers at microwave popcorn packaging plants and at least one consumer.

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Lung damage in babies with congenital heart disease under study

Heart • • Respiratory ProblemsMar 10 08

Trying to understand and stop the collateral lung damage that can occur in babies with congenital heart disease is the focus of a new study.

When a baby’s heart defect results in too much blood in the lungs, more blood vessels are made, apparently to handle the increased volume, then new blood vessel growth is abruptly halted.

“You get this burst in the first month of life of blood vessel activity, then we think the system gets shut down and the lungs don’t get any bigger,” says Dr. Stephen M. Black, cell and molecular physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia Vascular Biology Center. “What we are trying to work out is what are the mechanisms.”

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Obese kids at higher respiratory risk post-surgery

Children's Health • • Obesity • • Respiratory ProblemsFeb 27 08

Obese children who undergo elective surgery typically have more additional medical conditions than their normal-weight peers do and are also at greater risk of developing adverse respiratory events after the procedure, U.S. researchers report.

“Many anesthesiologists may suspect that obese children have a ‘rockier’ anesthetic course than normal-weight children,” lead investigator Dr. Alan R. Tait told Reuters Health. “We have now confirmed that these children do indeed have an increased risk of adverse events.”

The study findings also show the obese children tend to have more illnesses than other children do “which, in and of themselves, may increase their anesthetic risk,” he added.

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Smoking Belies Milder Disease but Worse Prognosis for IPF Patients

Respiratory Problems • • Tobacco & MarijuanaJan 15 08

Smokers and ex-smokers with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), an untreatable progressive lung disease that usually leads to death within a few years of diagnosis, have a worse prognosis than non-smokers, according to research from London.

Previous research had counter-intuitively suggested that current smokers with IPF might live longer than ex-smokers, but the new study establishes that the data likely reflected a healthy smoker effect.

The study appears in the second issue for January of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

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