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News briefs from the journal Chest, June 2004

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, $
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
7-Jun-2004


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