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(1/4576) The expiry date of man: a synthesis of evolutionary biology and public health.

In industrialised countries, mortality and morbidity are dominated by age related chronic degenerative diseases. The health and health care needs of future populations will be heavily determined by these conditions of old age. Two opposite scenarios of future morbidity exist: morbidity might decrease ("compress"), because life span is limited, and the incidence of disease is postponed. Or morbidity might increase ("expand"), because death is delayed more than disease incidence. Optimality theory in evolutionary biology explains senescence as a by product of an optimised life history. The theory clarifies how senescence is timed by the competing needs for reproduction and survival, and why this leads to a generalised deterioration of many functions at many levels. As death and disease are not independent, future morbidity will depend on duration and severity of the process of senescence, partly determined by health care, palliating the disease severity but increasing the disease duration by postponing death. Even if morbidity might be compressed, health care needs will surely expand.  (+info)

(2/4576) Avoidable mortality in Europe 1955-1994: a plea for prevention.

OBJECTIVE: To analyse trends of avoidable mortality in Europe, emphasising causes of death amenable to primary prevention through reduction of exposures, secondary prevention through early detection and treatment, and tertiary prevention through improved treatment and medical care. DESIGN: Descriptive study of mortality from avoidable causes for the years 1955 through 1994, for ages 5-64 at time of death. Using the World Health Organisation Mortality Database, five year death rates were standardised to the world population. SETTING: 21 countries of Europe in four regions (northern, central, and southern Europe, Nordic countries). PARTICIPANTS: All causes of deaths for men and women, aged 5-64, at time of death. MAIN RESULTS: Between 1955-59 and 1990-94, the reduction in mortality was somewhat greater for avoidable causes than for all causes: 45.8% v 45.1% (women) and 39.3% v 32.6% among men. Reductions in mortality were greater for causes amenable to improved medical care: 77.9% among women and 76.3% among men. The smallest reduction in mortality was seen in women for causes amenable to secondary prevention (11.0%), and in men for causes amendable to primary prevention including tobacco related conditions (16.6%). From a geographical point of view, there were slight differences in trends between European regions, but overall the patterns were similar. CONCLUSIONS: The greatest reduction of avoidable mortality in Europe from 1955-94 came from causes amenable to improved treatment and medical care for both sexes. Further reductions of avoidable mortality can be achieved through implementation of primary and secondary prevention activities, such as tobacco control, reduction of occupational exposures, and universal access to breast and cervical cancer screening programmes.  (+info)

(3/4576) The meaning and use of the cumulative rate of potential life lost.

BACKGROUND: The 'years of potential life lost' (YPLL) is a public health measure in widespread use. However, the index does not apply to the comparisons between different populations or across different time periods. It also has the limit of being cross-sectional in nature, quantifying current burden but not future impact on society. METHODS: A new years-lost index is proposed-the 'cumulative rate of potential life lost' (CRPLL). It is a simple combination of the 'cumulative rate' (CR) and the YPLL. Vital statistics in Taiwan are used for demonstration and comparison of the new index with existing health-status measures. RESULTS: The CRPLL serves the purpose of between-group comparison. It can also be considered a projection of future impact, under the assumption that the age-specific mortality rates in the current year prevail. For a rare cause of death, it can be interpreted as the expected years (days) of potential life lost during a subject's lifetime. CONCLUSIONS: The CRPLL has several desirable properties, rendering it a promising alternative for quantifying health status.  (+info)

(4/4576) The European mesothelioma epidemic.

Projections for the period 1995-2029 suggest that the number of men dying from mesothelioma in Western Europe each year will almost double over the next 20 years, from 5000 in 1998 to about 9000 around 2018, and then decline, with a total of about a quarter of a million deaths over the next 35 years. The highest risk will be suffered by men born around 1945-50, of whom about 1 in 150 will die of mesothelioma. Asbestos use in Western Europe remained high until 1980, and substantial quantities are still used in several European countries. These projections are based on the fit of a simple age and birth cohort model to male pleural cancer mortality from 1970 to 1989 for six countries (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Switzerland) which together account for three-quarters of the population of Western Europe. The model was tested by comparing observed and predicted numbers of deaths for the period 1990-94. The ratio of mesothelioma to recorded pleural cancer mortality has been 1.6:1 in Britain but was assumed to be 1:1 in other countries.  (+info)

(5/4576) A historical cohort mortality study of workers exposed to asbestos in a refitting shipyard.

To investigate the risks of developing asbestos-related diseases we conducted a historical cohort mortality study on 249 ship repair workers (90 laggers and 159 boiler repairers) in a single U.S. Navy shipyard in Japan. We successfully identified the vital status of 87 (96.7%) laggers and 150 (94.3%) boiler repairers, and, of these, 49 (56.3%) and 65 (43.3%) died, respectively, during the follow-up period from 1947 till the end of 1996. Our in-person interviews with some of the subjects clarified that asbestos exposure was considered to be substantially high in the 1950-60s, decreased thereafter gradually but remained till 1979 in the shipyard. The laggers, who had handled asbestos materials directly, showed a significantly elevated SMR of 2.75 (95% C.I.: 1.08-6.48) for lung cancer. The risk developing the disease was greater in the laggers after a 20-year latency (SMR = 3.42). Pancreatic cancer yielded a greater SMR than unity (7.78, 90% C.I.: 2.07-25.19) in a longer working years group. Four laggers died from asbestosis. The boiler repairers, who had many chances for secondary exposure to asbestos and a few for direct exposure, showed no elevation of the SMR of lung cancer overall, but there was a borderline statistically significant SMR of 2.41 (90% C.I.: 1.05-5.45) in a longer working years group. One boiler repairer died from mesothelioma and four from asbestosis.  (+info)

(6/4576) Effects of calcium-channel blockade in older patients with diabetes and systolic hypertension. Systolic Hypertension in Europe Trial Investigators.

BACKGROUND: Recent reports suggest that calcium-channel blockers may be harmful in patients with diabetes and hypertension. We previously reported that antihypertensive treatment with the calcium-channel blocker nitrendipine reduced the risk of cardiovascular events. In this post hoc analysis, we compared the outcome of treatment with nitrendipine in diabetic and nondiabetic patients. METHODS: After stratification according to center, sex, and presence or absence of previous cardiovascular complications, 4695 patients (age, > or =60 years) with systolic blood pressure of 160 to 219 mm Hg and diastolic pressure below 95 mm Hg were randomly assigned to receive active treatment or placebo. Active treatment consisted of nitrendipine (10 to 40 mg per day) with the possible addition or substitution of enalapril (5 to 20 mg per day) or hydrochlorothiazide (12.5 to 25 mg per day) or both, titrated to reduce the systolic blood pressure by at least 20 mm Hg and to less than 150 mm Hg. In the control group, matching placebo tablets were administered similarly. RESULTS: At randomization, 492 patients (10.5 percent) had diabetes. After a median follow-up of two years, the systolic and diastolic blood pressures in the placebo and active-treatment groups differed by 8.6 and 3.9 mm Hg, respectively, among the diabetic patients. Among the 4203 patients without diabetes, systolic and diastolic pressures differed by 10.3 and 4.5 mm Hg, respectively, in the two groups. After adjustment for possible confounders, active treatment was found to have reduced overall mortality by 55 percent (from 45.1 deaths per 1000 patients to 26.4 deaths per 1000 patients), mortality from cardiovascular disease by 76 percent, all cardiovascular events combined by 69 percent, fatal and nonfatal strokes by 73 percent, and all cardiac events combined by 63 percent in the group of patients with diabetes. Among the nondiabetic patients, active treatment decreased all cardiovascular events combined by 26 percent and fatal and nonfatal strokes by 38 percent. In the group of patients receiving active treatment, reductions in overall mortality, mortality from cardiovascular disease, and all cardiovascular events were significantly larger among the diabetic patients than among the nondiabetic patients (P=0.04, P=0.02, and P=0.01, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Nitrendipine-based antihypertensive therapy is particularly beneficial in older patients with diabetes and isolated systolic hypertension. Thus, our findings do not support the hypothesis that the use of long-acting calcium-channel blockers may be harmful in diabetic patients.  (+info)

(7/4576) Association between serum fructosamine and mortality in elderly women: the study of osteoporotic fractures.

Serum fructosamine levels can be used to estimate long-term serum glucose values and can be measured in frozen serum. The authors examined whether fructosamine levels were associated with mortality in a cohort of 9,704 white women (> or = 65 years of age) recruited from September 1986 to October 1988 at four clinical centers in the United States. A random sample of women who had died during a mean of 6 years of follow-up (n = 55) was compared with randomly selected controls (n = 276, 54 of whom had died). Fructosamine assays were performed blinded to vital status. Hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals were adjusted for age, clinical center, smoking, hypertension, and serum albumin and cholesterol levels. Each standard deviation (46 micromol) increase in fructosamine level was associated with a 1.3-fold (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-1.6, p = 0.04) increased rate of all-cause mortality, including a 1.5-fold (95% CI 1.0-2.1, p = 0.03) increase in cardiovascular disease mortality. Elevated fructosamine levels (>285 micromol/liter) were associated with a 4.3-fold (95% CI 1.6-12, p = 0.004) increased rate of cardiovascular mortality; in women without a history of diabetes, the hazard ratio was 4.6 (95% CI 1.3-16, p = 0.02). Fructosamine level, or another indicator of glycemia, should be included when the risk of cardiovascular disease among older patients is evaluated.  (+info)

(8/4576) Cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in men.

BACKGROUND: Cardiorespiratory fitness and body fatness are both related to health, but their interrelation to all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality is unknown. OBJECTIVE: We examined the health benefits of leanness and the hazards of obesity while simultaneously considering cardiorespiratory fitness. DESIGN: This was an observational cohort study. We followed 21925 men, aged 30-83 y, who had a body-composition assessment and a maximal treadmill exercise test. There were 428 deaths (144 from CVD, 143 from cancer, and 141 from other causes) in an average of 8 y of follow-up (176742 man-years). RESULTS: After adjustment for age, examination year, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and parental history of ischemic heart disease, unfit (low cardiorespiratory fitness as determined by maximal exercise testing), lean men had double the risk of all-cause mortality of fit, lean men (relative risk: 2.07; 95% CI: 1.16, 3.69; P = 0.01). Unfit, lean men also had a higher risk of all-cause and CVD mortality than did men who were fit and obese. We observed similar results for fat and fat-free mass in relation to mortality. Unfit men had a higher risk of all-cause and CVD mortality than did fit men in all fat and fat-free mass categories. Similarly, unfit men with low waist girths (<87 cm) had greater risk of all-cause mortality than did fit men with high waist girths (> or =99 cm). CONCLUSIONS: The health benefits of leanness are limited to fit men, and being fit may reduce the hazards of obesity.  (+info)