American Thoracic Society news tips for March 2000

March 15, 2000

NO AUTO ACCIDENTS FOR TREATED SLEEP APNEA PATIENTS

From the first study to employ division of motor vehicle records, researchers report that sleep apnea patients had no auto accidents over two years while being treated for their problem. They underwent nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. With sleep apnea, individuals cease breathing for 10 seconds or longer numerous times during the evening. The victims arousals from sleep, which averaged 37 per hour in this study before treatment, are so brief they generally go unremembered upon awakening. However, they do cause sleepiness during the day, leading to a two- to three-fold higher risk for vehicular crashes for untreated persons. The research appears in the March American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

NEW MARKER FOR ACUTE LUNG INJURY

Investigators have developed the first biochemical marker of acute lung injury. The research showed that levels of a human type 1 cell membrane protein correlates with damage to epithelial cells lining the tiny air sacs of the lung in acute lung injury. The amount of the protein was over four times higher in 87 percent of the tested patients with acute lung injury, in contrast to that of normal control subjects. In future studies, the researchers hope to develop a blood test for the deadly problem.. The article appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

TUBERCULOSIS SCREENING IN IMMIGRANTS FROM HIGH- AND LOW-RISK AREAS

X-ray screening for tuberculosis (TB) among immigrants from high-risk countries is consistently more cost-effective than skin testing, according to Canadian researchers. They report that radiographic screening cost $3,943 (Canadian currency) per active TB case prevented in the highest risk group (Sub-Saharan Africa), as contrasted with $32,601 for skin testing. They noted that for immigrants from low prevalence countries (Western Europe) both radiographic screening and skin testing are extremely costly and have negligible impact. Their study appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
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American Thoracic Society

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