Entries in Pneumonia (6)


Nelson Mandela’s Lung Infection Could Be Pneumonia

WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nelson Mandela is being treated for a lung infection, a term often used synonymously with pneumonia.

Elderly people are at an increased risk for infections in general -- more so if the person has many chronic medical problems.  As people age, their immune systems are less capable of fighting off infections.

South African officials say Mandela’s lung infection is “recurring.”   The former president is 94 years old.

As elderly people become more and more infirm, they have a decreased cough response and may aspirate oral secretions into their lungs, raising the risk of infections.  And if someone is bedridden, their breaths become more shallow, raising the risk even more.

It may seem surprising that it took so long for Mandela’s diagnosis to be made public.  However, it’s possible that it took this long to make a diagnosis.

Elderly people respond differently to pneumonia, meaning they might lack common symptoms like fever and cough, and instead show signs of confusion.  The evaluation of change in physical or mental condition in someone of Mandela’s age is broad, with much testing needed to make a diagnosis.

There are different types of pneumonia including viral (caused by influenza), bacterial (caused by pneumococcus or tuberculosis), fungal and parasitic.  

ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser suspects Mandela most likely has a viral or bacterial pneumonia.  If he does, they are likely treating him with antibiotics and providing respiratory support.

Pneumonia is a leading infectious cause of death in the elderly.  But with proper treatment, many do recover.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Statins May Lower Pneumonia Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Statins, the same drugs that help millions of Americans control their cholesterol may also help prevent pneumonia, a new study found.

Blocking cholesterol build-up inside arteries, statin reduces the risk of heart disease. But a clinical trial of Crestor, made by the London-based drug company AstraZeneca, suggests the benefits of statins extend beyond the heart.

“Participants randomly assigned to receive rosuvastatin [Crestor is the brand name] had a modest reduction in the incidence of pneumonia compared with participants assigned to the placebo group,” wrote lead author Dr. Victor Novack of the Soroka University Medical Center. The study was published Monday in the journal CMAJ.

Novack and colleagues analyzed data from more than 17,800 men and women aged 50 and older who had no history of heart disease or diabetes. During a follow-up period of almost two years, 214 people taking statins contracted pneumonia, compared with 257 people taking a placebo — a small, but significant difference that held even when the researchers controlled for pneumonia risk factors, such as age and smoking.

“Although a number of observational studies have suggested a protective effect  of statin use on the incidence of pneumonia and other infections, we are not aware of any evidence from prior randomized trials that specifically evaluated this question,” according to the study.

Previous studies have found that statins have positive effects on inflammation — the hallmark feature of pneumonia, which is triggered by infection. Pneumonia is often a complication of another condition, such as influenza. A study published last year in the Journal of Infectious Diseases linked statins with a decreased risk of death for patients hospitalized for flu.

“They reduce inflammation that may be triggered by the influenza virus,” Dr. Cam Patterson, distinguished professor of cardiovascular medicine at the  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said of the 2011 study. “This may lead to less tissue damage from the virus, making it easier for patients to recover from severe bouts of the flu.”

The proportion of pneumonia cases stemming from flu included in Monday’s study is not known.

Infections other than pneumonia, such as urinary tract infections and sepsis, were diagnosed in 3,760 participants who were taking Crestor, and 3,828 taking a placebo. The infections were classified as serious in 412 patients taking Crestor, and 456 patients taking a placebo.

“These data provide support for ongoing studies such as the Statins for Acutely Injured Lungs from Sepsis, or Sails, trial, and emphasize the need for basic investigators to continue exploring novel mechanisms by which statin therapy appears to reduce the incidence of clinical events,” the authors wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prevnar 13 FDA-Approved for Adults 50 and Older

PRNewsFoto/Amgen/Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 has been approved by the FDA for use in adults ages 50 and over, Pfizer said Friday.

"Pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, in adults 50 years and older represents a significant personal and societal health burden in the United States. The FDA approval of Prevnar 13 for these adults offers the potential to contribute to the health of millions of aging Americans,” Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc. said in a statement Friday.

According to Pfizer, Pneumococcal disease (PD) is growing as a leading public health issue for adults 50 and older in the U.S., where there are "hundreds of thousands of S. pneumoniae infections per year, including more than 440,000 cases of pneumococcal pneumonia, accounting for an estimated 200,000 emergency department visits and 300,000 hospitalizations."

“Clearly, there remains a high incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia in this adult population,” said Emilio Emini, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Vaccine Research for Pfizer. “Prevnar 13 was licensed for adults 50 years and older by the FDA under an accelerated approval pathway because of its potential to help address this significant disease burden.”

Previously Prevnar's use in the U.S. was limited to the prevention and treatment of ear infections, sepsis and meningitis in children, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Hope to Prevent World’s Top Killer of Children

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The world’s leading cause of death for children under age five is a disease that can be cured with a simple dose of antibiotics costing only $1: pneumonia.  But in many parts of the world, getting sick children to a health care facility to be treated is one of the biggest obstacles.

A new study, released Thursday in the Lancet medical journal, suggests that training frontline workers to treat children at home is one of most effective ways to drastically reduce the number of deaths caused by pneumonia.

The research, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and conducted by the nonprofit organization Save the Children, offers new hope for those fighting to save the roughly 1.4 million children under age 5 who die annually from the disease -- 98 percent of them in the developing world.

“Pneumonia is highly treatable with inexpensive antibiotics, yet it remains the world’s number-one killer of children,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.  “Today’s results point to an extremely promising and practical way to reduce child deaths from severe pneumonia in the hardest hit communities.”

USAID Administrator Raj Shah said, “This study adds to the evidence base that frontline health workers can safely and effectively manage illness and prevent child deaths, especially in communities where doctors and health facilities are out of reach for poor families.”

The study followed 3,211 children with severe pneumonia in the Haripur district of Pakistan.   A control group received an oral antibiotic and was referred to a health facility.  Several families reported they did not make the trip and others said they failed to receive proper treatment even if they made it to a health care facility.

An experimental group of children was treated at home with oral antibiotics for five days by community health workers known as  Lady Health Workers.  The outcomes for this group were much better, with 50 percent fewer treatment failures than the group treated at a health care facility.

After five days, 18 percent of the children referred to a facility were still ill, compared to 9 percent of those treated at home by the Lady Health Workers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pediatricians Dispense Tips for a Healthy School Year  

Comstock/Thinkstock(WILMINGTON, Del.) -- School is already back in session for many and pediatricians are encouraging parents and children alike to take precautionary measures to avoid spreading illness at school.

HealthDay reports that strep throat is just one of several common childhood illnesses that can easily spread if parents and children do not take the proper preventive measures, according to experts at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

Experts are advising parents and students to be aware of five common childhood infections:

• Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) — This condition is most often caused by viruses or bacteria and can be prevented by washing hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water.
• Strep throat —The bacterial infection that causes swelling and extreme soreness in the back of the throat can be prevented by not sharing utensils, food, drinks, napkins or towels with a child who already has the sickness.
• Head lice —Lice are parasitic insects that infest the head, eyebrows and eyelashes and can be prevented by  not sharing combs, brushes, hats and helmets.
• Molluscum contagiosum — This very contagious viral skin rash, common among children between the ages of 1 and 12 can best be prevented by hand washing with soap and water.
• Walking pneumonia  — This illness is the leading type of pneumonia in school-age kids and teens and can be prevented by avoiding direct contact with an infected person and by hand washing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers Link Periodontal Health to Respiratory Illnesses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- New research published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that periodontal disease may increase risk for respiratory infections such as chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. 

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth.  Respiratory infections like pneumonia or COPD occur when bacteria from the upper throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.  Researchers infer that oral pathogens associated with periodontal disease increase the risk of developing respiratory illnesses.

Donald S. Clem, DDS, the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, emphasized the importance of proper oral care to prevent or treat the development of periodontal disease.

"By working with your dentist or periodontist, you may actually be able to prevent or diminish the progression of harmful diseases such as pneumonia or COPD," he said.  "This study provides yet another example of how periodontal health plays a role in keeping other systems of the body healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio