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American Thoracic Society International Conference 2006, May 19-24, 2006

American Thoracic Society International Conference 2006

The American Thoracic Society International Conference 2006 took place in San Diego from May 19-24. The conference, which included more than 5,000 presentations and attracted 14,500 attendees, suggested that harried lives on the part of patients and physicians can take a toll on respiratory disease treatment, with some patients falling through the cracks and others being affected by inadequate nutrition and sleep, as well as emotional stressors.

The studies ranged from a retrospective review that suggested that urban air containing particulate matter greater than 10 micrometers diameter is associated with a heightened risk of mortality in patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, to an investigation that linked below-optimal daily intake of vitamin D to lower lung function in adolescents.

Another study of data from the Nurses' Health Study, indicated that getting five hours of sleep a night over several years' time is associated with a higher risk of obesity and greater weight gain in women in comparison to those who typically get seven hours of sleep daily.

In addition, the time for patient education is dwindling, or at least some physicians feel that way. In fact, the results from an international survey released at the conference, the Global Asthma Physician and Patient Survey -- a poll of more than 3,400 adults spanning 16 countries -- indicate that there are significant communication problems between physicians and patients in asthma treatment. About one-fifth of all asthma patients, for instance, say they are not aware of the possible side effects of treatment, but only 5 percent of the physicians who prescribe these treatments believe their patients are uninformed about potential adverse effects.

"The data suggest that doctors are not spending as much time as they should," said Michael Kaliner M.D., of the Institute for Asthma and Allergy in Chevy Chase, Md. However, that may be because they are time-pressured in their practices; managed care often imposes expectations that encourage physicians to spend less time with individual patients so that health care providers may take on a greater patient load.

Lifestyle issues, though complicated to ascertain, are essential to investigate, said John Kimoff, M.D., director of the sleep disorders center at McGill University in Montreal. One critical query for patients is "How do they organize their lives?"

"That can be such an important question," he said.

In one study presented at the meeting, parental conflict, especially verbal aggression between parents, was shown to predict decreases in early lung function in their children. In another, asthmatic children who lived in the inner city showed far less use of long-term asthma-control medications, even when they got medical care in their own area, another possible gap in patient education.

The "time issue" is not easily solved, noted Kaliner, but he believes the Internet, with its helpful Web sites and e-mail access, might provide one way of keeping patients better informed, even well informed.

In addition, the ATS has adopted a new way to assess and issue guidelines and recommendations. It is an evidence-based approach that "grades" studies (Grades of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation). The hope is that it will speed the process of disseminating good practice standards and new research.

Shortage of Sleep Associated with Weight Gain in Women

MONDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Inadequate sleep is associated with greater weight gain with age, according to findings from the Nurses' Health Study presented this week at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

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Inhaled Cyclosporine Benefits Lung Transplant Patients

THURSDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- A cyclosporine spray appears to preserve lung function in patients who receive regular doses of the inhalant following lung transplantation, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

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Better Communication May Help Asthma Compliance

THURSDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Many asthma patients eventually stop taking their medication or skip doses during treatment, according to the results of large international survey on asthma management presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

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Lung Function Lower in Teens Consuming Less Vitamin D

WEDNESDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents with a low vitamin D intake have a lower lung function than those with higher intake, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

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Air Pollution Linked to Mortality in Chronic Disease Patients

WEDNESDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to particulate matter from air pollution is associated with mortality risk in patients who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or lupus, according to the results of a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

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Cat in Home Linked to Eczema in Infancy

WEDNESDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to cats in the neonatal period appears to heighten the risk of eczema for infants and toddlers, according to the results of a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.

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Conservative Tactics Best in Lung Injury Fluid Management

MONDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with acute lung injury, a conservative strategy of fluid management, in which fluid intake is restricted and urinary output is increased, appears to be better than a strategy involving liberal fluid intake, according to a study published online May 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings were released early to coincide with their presentation at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego.

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