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Racial Differences Seen in Severe Emphysema

Compared with white patients, black patients with advanced emphysema tend to be younger and smoke fewer cigarettes

FRIDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with advanced emphysema, blacks tend to be younger and to have smoked less than their white counterparts, according to a study in the July issue of Chest.

Wissam M. Chatila, M.D., of the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied 1,218 patients with severe or very severe emphysema including 42 (3.4 percent) blacks and 1,156 (95 percent) whites.

Compared with whites, the researchers found that blacks had a younger mean age (63 versus 67 years) and smoked a fewer mean number of cigarettes per day (26 versus 32). They found no group differences in pulmonary function, gas exchange or exercise. Although quality-of-life measures were similar, the black patients were more likely to have a lower socioeconomic status and a lower education level, and were less likely to be married.

"While it was not surprising to find physiologic and functional similarities between the two races, the fact that African-American patients were younger and smoked less than their white counterparts was not expected," the authors conclude. "Moreover, African-American patients exhibited a phenotypically different disease pattern based on CT imaging than did demographically matched white patients. Further investigation is needed to determine the factors important in inciting, and then modifying the different patterns of emphysema expressed by the two races."

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