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Seasonal Variation Observed in Pulmonary Fibrosis Deaths

Death rates highest in the winter compared with the summer, study finds

THURSDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Death rates in patients with pulmonary fibrosis are highest in the winter compared with the summer, according to a study in the July issue of Chest.

Using U.S. death records, Amy L. Olson, M.D., from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and colleagues investigated whether death rates in patients with pulmonary fibrosis exhibited seasonal variation.

The researchers found that from 1992 to 2003, there were 27,367,580 deaths overall and 170,984 deaths among patients with pulmonary fibrosis. Compared with the summer months, death rates in patients with pulmonary fibrosis were 17.1 percent higher in winter, 12.7 percent higher in the spring, and 5.2 percent higher in the fall.

"Mortality rates from pulmonary fibrosis exhibit significant seasonal variation, with the highest rates occurring in the winter, even when recognized infection is excluded," Olson and colleagues conclude. "Seasonal variation in pulmonary fibrosis mirrors chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations and mortality, raising suspicion that an unidentified infectious trigger may play a significant role."

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