American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for July (second issue)

July 26, 2002

Humming for your sinuses

Humming is an extremely effective way of increasing ventilation in the sinuses, according to Swedish scientists. As a result of their finding, the researchers hope to study whether daily episodes of humming can reduce the risk of sinusitis in patients susceptible to upper respiratory infection (URI). (Sinusitis, a common illness reported by 14 percent of the U.S. population, involves the inflammation of one of the paranasal sinuses, usually from URI.) The researchers, who tested 10 healthy males, ages 34 to 38, found that humming sped up the exchange of air between the sinuses and the nasal cavity and increased the nitric oxide (NO) rate by 15-fold. The researchers pointed out that proper ventilation is essential for the maintenance of sinus integrity, and that blockage of the opening between the two cavities is a central event in the development of sinusitis. From further larger-scale studies, they hope to show that their NO technique can offer an easy, non-invasive way of identifying persons who are at risk of developing sinusitis. The authors note that the current test to measure the degree the sinuses are open is invasive and somewhat cumbersome to perform. The study appears in the second issue for July of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Smoking by family members associated
with asthma diagnosis before age 6


Research showed that smoking by family members was associated with an increased likelihood a child in the home would be diagnosed with asthma before age 6. In addition, the number of young people who started smoking before age 15 increased significantly as the number of smokers in the house grew. To uncover the results, investigators measured lung function in approximately 4,000 black and white men and women who were initially ages 18 to 30 during 1985 to 1986. Follow-up exams were given to participants 2, 5, and 10 years later. In addition, participants were questioned about their respiratory health, cigarette smoking, physical activity, and medical history. Among 5,016 adult participants who reported the status of family smoking when they grew up, approximately 50 percent said that their mother smoked and about two-thirds noted that their father smoked. Of this group, almost 44 percent had ever smoked, with slightly over 20 percent being current smokers. (Current smokers demonstrated a lower lung function at age 18 and a faster rate of lung deterioration than did non-smokers.) The prevalence of asthma at age 6 or younger was 2.8 percent with no smokers in the family and doubled to 5.6 percent when one family member smoked. The percent prevalence of smoking at age 15 and younger grew from 4.6 percent with no smokers in the house, to 7.6 percent with one smoker, up to 12.4 percent with three smokers, and rose to 14.9 percent with four or more smokers. The research appears in second issue for July of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Obstructive sleep apnea caused 5-fold increase in heart disease

The first long-term, clinic-based epidemiologic study of the development of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged men either with or without obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) showed that the sleep problem caused almost a 5-fold increase in heart disease which was independent of age, weight, blood pressure, and current smoking status. Swedish researchers found that at least one cardiovascular problem occurred in 22 or 60 men, aged 30 to 69, with OSA, compared with 8 of 122 without OSA. All men were free of heart and pulmonary disease, diabetes, psychiatric disorder, alcohol dependency, or malignancy at the study's start in 1991. They were investigated over a seven-year period. (In sleep apnea, a person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep long enough to decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood and brain, and to increase the amount of carbon dioxide.) According to the investigators, the most significant predictor of the development of cardiovascular disease was the presence of OSA at baseline. Patients with excessive daytime sleepiness were offered treatment with either continuous positive airway pressure, surgery, or an oral appliance. In the OSA group, cardiovascular disease was observed in 21 of 37 incompletely treated cases, but it occurred in only 1 of the 15 effectively treated patients. The study appeared in the second issue for July of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
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For the complete text of these articles, please see the American Thoracic Society Online Web Site at http://www.atsjournals.org. For contact information or to request a complimentary journalist subscription to ATS journals online, or if you would like to add your name to the Society's twice monthly journal news mailing list (please select either postal or electronic delivery), contact Cathy Carlomagno at (212) 315-6442, or by e-mail at ccarlomagno@thoracic.org

American Thoracic Society

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