Asthma Hospitalization on the Decline Among U.S. Military

New drugs, better outpatient management credited for drop

THURSDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Initial and subsequent asthma hospitalizations may be on the decline among otherwise healthy individuals, according to the results of a study of more than 4 million active-duty U.S. military personnel published in the January issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. These findings mirror those seen in civilian populations.

Christian J. Hansen, of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, and colleagues tracked initial and subsequent asthma hospitalizations among all active-duty U.S. military personnel between 1994 and 2004 using electronic medical records. The investigators also sought to determine risk factors for such hospitalizations.

Annual hospitalization rates dropped from 22.3 per 100,000 to 12.6 per 100,000 between 1994 and 2004. There was a decline in both initial and subsequent hospitalizations, the report indicates. The risk of asthma hospitalization was higher in women, married subjects, health care workers, enlisted personnel, U.S. Army personnel and older patients. Certain occupations, including combat and craft workers, were not at greater risk of asthma attacks, according to the new data.

"The decline in overall rates may have been the result of better outpatient management strategies and the introduction of new pharmaceuticals, reducing the need for hospitalization during the study period," the authors conclude.

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