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News briefs from the journal CHEST, May 2004

URBAN HOMELESS OFTEN BATTLE CHRONIC LUNG DISEASE
A San Francisco study shows that the homeless are twice as likely to have obstructive lung disease (OLD), a condition that blocks airflow from the lungs and is a leading cause of death in the United States. Researchers at the University of California administered spirometry tests to 68 homeless adults and found that 15% had OLD, which is double the prevalence for all adults (7.2%). Other related chronic respiratory symptoms, such as chronic bronchitis, wheezing, and asthma, were also found to be common in the homeless. With smokers making up 68% of the homeless, nearly three times the percentage of smokers in the general population, researchers speculate that smoking, malnutrition, and poor access to care may be responsible for the high incidence of OLD. Researchers point out the importance of medical attention for OLD because disease must be identified early for treatment. The study appears in the May issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

IS MY LUNG FUNCTION REALLY THAT GOOD?
Researchers in Pittsburgh recently found that errors frequently occur in a common lung function test called spirometry, which can lead to significantly elevated and inaccurate test results. One common error is caused at "zeroing" when the sensor measures an air pressure gradient when there is actually no airflow. This causes falsely elevated air volumes and shifts the entire volume-time curve. Errors also can occur when the sensor is obstructed by condensation of water vapor, mucus, or a subject's fingers. These two technical problems, which can occur even when the spirometer is calibrated as recommended, are especially dangerous because the high values they produce replace accurate but lower values recorded during testing, leading technicians to believe a patient's lung function has improved or is better than what it actually is. Researchers advis
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
10-May-2004


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