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Journal: Primary care respiratory journal : journal of the General Practice Airways Group


BACKGROUND: There has been a large increase in treatment and in research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from the common starting point of the original Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) study. There is currently little evidence on the degree of similarity and difference between national programmes or on the linkage between research and policy. AIMS: To review the evidence on programme development and the effectiveness gap from the UK, France, Germany, and Finland. METHODS: Visits and literature reviews were undertaken for regional centres in Lancashire, Nord-Pas de Calais, and Finland, and Eurostat data on mortality and hospital discharges were analysed. And telephone interviews in Nord-Rhein Westphalia. RESULTS: There have been very significant differences in programme development from the original GOLD starting point. The UK has national strategies but they are without consistent local delivery. The French Affection de Longue Durée (ALD) programme limits special help to at most 10% of patients and there is little use of spirometry in primary care. Germany has a more general Disease Management Programme with COPD as a late starter. Finland has had a successful 10-year programme. The results for the effectiveness gap on hospital discharges show a major difference between Finland (40.7% fall in discharges) and others (increases of 6.0-43.7%). CONCLUSIONS: The results show the need for a simpler programme in primary care to close the effectiveness gap. Such a programme is outlined based on preventing the downward spiral for high-risk patients.

Concepts: Respiratory diseases, Pneumonia, The Downward Spiral, Spirometry, Pulmonology, Obstructive lung disease, Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


BACKGROUND: The severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should not be based on the level of airflow limitation alone. A multicomponent index such as the DOSE index (dyspnoea score (D), level of airflow obstruction (O), current smoking status (S), and exacerbations (E)) has the potential to predict important future outcomes in patients with COPD more effectively than the forced expiratory volume in one second. Health status deterioration should be prevented in COPD patients. AIMS: To investigate whether the DOSE index can predict which patients are at risk of a clinically relevant change in health status. METHODS: A prospective cohort study was performed using data from primary and secondary care. The DOSE score was determined at baseline and the 2-year change in the Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ) score was calculated. Linear regression analysis was performed for the effect of a high DOSE score (≥4) on the change in CCQ score. RESULTS: The study population consisted of 209 patients (112 patients from primary care). Overall, a high DOSE score was a significant predictor of a change in CCQ score after 2 years (0.41, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.70), particularly in primary care patients. CONCLUSIONS: A DOSE score of ≥4 has the ability to identify COPD patients with a greater risk of future worsening in health status.

Concepts: Primary care, Forecasting, Epidemiology, Linear regression, Asthma, Regression analysis, Clinical trial, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Persistent post-infectious cough (PPC) is a cough that remains after a common cold or an upper respiratory tract infection for more than three weeks or perhaps for many months. Two of the suggested treatments for PPC are systemic steroid and honey plus coffee.

Concepts: Dextromethorphan, Asthma, Common cold, Randomized controlled trial, Lower respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract, Respiratory system, Upper respiratory tract infection


Co-morbidities may complicate the clinical management of chronic conditions such as asthma. Aims: To quantify the strength of the relationship between asthma and other chronic diseases and to analyse whether co-morbidities contribute to unscheduled asthma care.

Concepts: Medical terms, Epidemiology, Asthma, Chronic, Medicine


In patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) the six-minute walk distance reflects the functional exercise level for daily physical activity. It is unknown if this also applies to patients with mild to moderate COPD in primary care.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Admission to hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with deprivation and season. However, it is not known whether deprivation and seasonality act synergistically to influence the risk of hospital admission with COPD.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Air travel poses medical challenges to passengers with respiratory disease, principally because of exposure to a hypobaric environment. In 2002 the British Thoracic Society published recommendations for adults and children with respiratory disease planning air travel, with a web update in 2004. New full recommendations and a summary were published in 2011, containing key recommendations for the assessment of high-risk patients and identification of those likely to require in-flight supplemental oxygen. This paper highlights the aspects of particular relevance to primary care practitioners with the following key points: (1) At cabin altitudes of 8000 feet (the usual upper limit of in-flight cabin pressure, equivalent to 0.75 atmospheres) the partial pressure of oxygen falls to the equivalent of breathing 15.1% oxygen at sea level. Arterial oxygen tension falls in all passengers; in patients with respiratory disease, altitude may worsen preexisting hypoxaemia. (2) Altitude exposure also influences the volume of any air in cavities, where pressure x volume remain constant (Boyle’s law), so that a pneumothorax or closed lung bulla will expand and may cause respiratory distress. Similarly, barotrauma may affect the middle ear or sinuses if these cavities fail to equilibrate. (3) Patients with respiratory disease require clinical assessment and advice before air travel to: (a) optimise usual care; (b) consider contraindications to travel and possible need for in-flight oxygen; © consider the need for secondary care referral for further assessment; (d) discuss the risk of venous thromboembolism; and (e) discuss forward planning for the journey.

Concepts: Vapor pressure, Boyle's law, Breathing gas, Hypoxia, Partial pressure, Oxygen, Pulmonology, Pressure


BACKGROUND: According to the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, an increase in microbial exposure in childhood leads to a T-helper cell 1 (Th1) predominant immune response and protection against asthma and atopic conditions. AIMS: To assess the prevalence of asthma and other atopic conditions in Somali immigrants and to determine the humoral immune response to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine viruses in Somali immigrants with asthma. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Study subjects were Somali immigrants who were born and lived in Africa during childhood and immigrated to the USA. The subjects had participated in a previous MMR vaccine study. Asthma was ascertained using predetermined asthma criteria after a thorough medical record review. An atopic condition was determined from physician-diagnosed ICD codes. Virus-specific IgG levels in response to the MMR vaccine viruses were determined using an enzyme immunoassay. RESULTS: Of the 62 eligible subjects, 33 (53%) were female and 29 (47%) were male; 10 (16%) had asthma and 22 (35%) had other atopic conditions. There was no difference in the rubella (p=0.150) and measles (p=0.715) virus-specific IgG levels between the subjects with and without asthma. Mumps virus-specific IgG antibody levels were lower in those with asthma than in those without asthma (mean±SE 2.08±0.28 vs. 3.06±0.14, p=0.005). CONCLUSIONS: Our study results may not support the hygiene hypothesis. In addition, the previously reported abnormal T-cell development in Caucasian children with atopy can be considered even in Somali immigrants.

Concepts: T helper cell, MMR vaccine, Asthma, Allergy, Antibody, Measles, Immunology, Immune system


Poor symptom control is common in asthma. Breathing training exercises may be an effective adjunct to medication; it is therefore important to understand facilitators and barriers to uptake of breathing training exercises.

Concepts: Qualitative research, Psychology


Previous studies have identified a discrepancy between patient perception of asthma control and real-world symptoms; despite several hypotheses, the reasons remain unclear.

Concepts: Decolonization, Great Britain, United Kingdom, Scientific method