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American Thoracic Society, May 13-18, 2011

Last Updated: May 23, 2011.

The American Thoracic Society's 2011 International Conference

The American Thoracic Society's 2011 International Conference was held from May 13 to 18 in Denver and attracted approximately 13,000 participants from around the world. The conference highlighted recent advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of pulmonary conditions as well as provided insight into critical care medicine and sleep disorders. The conference featured more than 5,500 scientific abstracts and case studies as well as more than 500 sessions and 800 speakers.

In one study, Gordon Carr, M.D., of the University of Chicago Medical Center, and colleagues found that hospitalized patients with pneumonia were at a higher risk of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, commonly without warning signs.

"We found that many cardiac arrests did not appear to be preceded by overt critical illness since most patients with pneumonia were not on mechanical ventilation or receiving vasoactive medications prior to the cardiac arrest," Carr said.

The investigators used a large registry of in-hospital cardiac arrest from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines database to assess the characteristics of early cardiac arrest in patients with pre-existing pneumonia.

"The key conclusion is that some patients with pneumonia and cardiac arrest may have an abrupt deterioration. Alternatively, current approaches to detecting high-risk pneumonia patients may be suboptimal," Carr said. "I think the implication is that we need to do more research to try to find out how often this phenomenon of abrupt deterioration occurs, and to learn more about what causes it. Abrupt deterioration could be part of the disease process in some patients, or it may reflect problems with processes of care or risk assessment methods."

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In another study, David Jiménez, M.D., of Ramón y Cajal Hospital and Alcalá de Henares University in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues found that thrombolytic therapy was associated with a trend toward improved survival in hypotensive patients with acute pulmonary embolism; whereas, thrombolytic therapy worsened survival in normotensive patients.

"Our results suggest that thrombolytics should not be used in normotensive patients with pulmonary embolism," Jiménez said.

The investigators evaluated data on 15,944 patients enrolled in the Registro Informatizado de la Enfermedad Trombo Embólica with confirmed symptomatic acute pulmonary embolism to determine whether thrombolytic therapy affected patient mortality in the three months after diagnosis.

The investigators found that hypotensive patients who were treated with thrombolytic therapy had a non-statistically significant reduction in death compared with patients treated with anticoagulants. However, normotensive patients who were treated with thrombolytic drugs had a statistically significant increased risk of death compared with those who received an anticoagulant.

"We do need a randomized clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of thrombolysis in the intermediate-risk group (i.e., with right ventricular dysfunction) of normotensive patients. We also need studies to further stratify hypotensive patients with acute symptomatic pulmonary embolism," Jiménez said.

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Yongjun Bian, M.D., of the Gunag'anmen Hospital in Beijing, and colleagues found that a traditional Chinese herbal paste, Xiao Chuan (XCP), reduced winter exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The investigators randomized 142 patients to receive either XCP or a placebo paste. Both pastes were applied on the same back points four times during an eight-week period between July and August. The investigators found that XCP treatment significantly reduced the frequency of winter exacerbation compared with placebo.

"Although this treatment has been used in China for thousands of years, no scientific studies had been performed on this conventional Chinese natural therapy," Bian said in a statement. "This [study's] results [help] us standardize the treatment protocol and avoid adverse events in future clinical practice."

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ATS: Cardiac Drugs Ineffective for Pulmonary Hypertension

THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) do not appear to benefit from taking aspirin or simvastatin, according to research published online May 18 in Circulation to coincide with presentation at the American Thoracic Society's 2011 International Conference, held from May 13 to 18 in Denver.

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ATS: Many Parents of Children With Asthma Avoid Flu Vaccine

TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Parents of a child with asthma who do not vaccinate the child against influenza are more likely to be concerned with vaccine safety and to not see influenza as a trigger of their child's asthma, according to research presented at the American Thoracic Society's 2011 International Conference, held from May 13 to 18 in Denver.

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ATS: Sleep Apnea Treatment Lowers Cardiovascular Risks

MONDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- The use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in elderly patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, according to research presented at the American Thoracic Society's 2011 International Conference, held from May 13 to 18 in Denver.

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