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Respiratory symptoms cut life expectancy in seniors

14 Jul 2019

Respiratory symptoms, such as coughs, shortness of breath and wheezing, are predictive of mortality in elderly adults, a recent study has shown. Smoking appears to modify these relationships.

Using data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing, researchers evaluated respiratory symptoms in 2,087 elderly adults (mean age, 78.2±6.7 years; 50.6 percent male) over 22 years of follow-up. Parametric survival functions were used to determine changes in life expectancy (LE).

Most (48.9 percent; n=1,018) of the participants were never smokers, while only 8.4 percent (n=176) were current smokers. There was also a sizable proportion of former smokers (42.0 percent; n=874). Majority died (86.5 percent; n=1,805) and 11.7 percent (n=244) were lost to follow-up; mean age at death or censoring was 88.9±6.4 years.

Across all smoking groups, the presence of cough (hazard ratio [HR], 1.22, 95 percent CI, 1.05–1.40), shortness of breath (HR, 1.50, 1.36–1.66) and wheezing (HR, 1.10, 0.98–1.23) increased the risk of mortality.

In current smokers, all respiratory symptoms assessed significantly predicted a greater mortality risk, while cough and shortness of breath were associated with increased risk of death in former smokers. Only shortness of breath was predictive of the risk in never smokers.

In the absence of respiratory symptoms, males aged 70 years had remaining LEs of 16.6, 16.3 and 13.6 years in never, former and current smokers, respectively. With all three symptoms present, the corresponding LEs dropped to 15.9, 13.4 and 11.7 years. A similar trend was reported for females, though LE was higher in general.

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Most Read Articles
Pearl Toh, 10 Oct 2019
Adding a LAMA* to the double combination therapy of ICS** plus LABA*** in a single inhaler improves lung function and reduces exacerbations in patients whose asthma is inadequately controlled with the combination treatment, according to the TRIMARAN and TRIGGER# studies presented at ERS 2019.
2 days ago
Environmental quality and exposure to pollution may play a small part in the development of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, a new study has found.
Tristan Manalac, 4 days ago
Sleep deprivation impairs adolescents’ long-term retention of classroom material, according to a recent Singapore study.
6 days ago
Eating alone may help in weight management as findings of a recent study suggest that eating with friends lead to higher food intake.