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1.  Prevalence, Distribution, and Impact of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Latin America, China, and India: A 10/66 Population-Based Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001170.
A set of cross-sectional surveys carried out in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, China, and India reveal the prevalence and between-country variation in mild cognitive impairment at a population level.
Rapid demographic ageing is a growing public health issue in many low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs). Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a construct frequently used to define groups of people who may be at risk of developing dementia, crucial for targeting preventative interventions. However, little is known about the prevalence or impact of MCI in LAMIC settings.
Methods and Findings
Data were analysed from cross-sectional surveys established by the 10/66 Dementia Research Group and carried out in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, China, and India on 15,376 individuals aged 65+ without dementia. Standardised assessments of mental and physical health, and cognitive function were carried out including informant interviews. An algorithm was developed to define Mayo Clinic amnestic MCI (aMCI). Disability (12-item World Health Organization disability assessment schedule [WHODAS]) and informant-reported neuropsychiatric symptoms (neuropsychiatric inventory [NPI-Q]) were measured. After adjustment, aMCI was associated with disability, anxiety, apathy, and irritability (but not depression); between-country heterogeneity in these associations was only significant for disability. The crude prevalence of aMCI ranged from 0.8% in China to 4.3% in India. Country differences changed little (range 0.6%–4.6%) after standardization for age, gender, and education level. In pooled estimates, aMCI was modestly associated with male gender and fewer assets but was not associated with age or education. There was no significant between-country variation in these demographic associations.
An algorithm-derived diagnosis of aMCI showed few sociodemographic associations but was consistently associated with higher disability and neuropsychiatric symptoms in addition to showing substantial variation in prevalence across LAMIC populations. Longitudinal data are needed to confirm findings—in particular, to investigate the predictive validity of aMCI in these settings and risk/protective factors for progression to dementia; however, the large number affected has important implications in these rapidly ageing settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Currently, more than 35 million people worldwide have dementia, a group of brain disorders characterized by an irreversible decline in memory, problem solving, communication, and other “cognitive” functions. Dementia, the commonest form of which is Alzheimer's disease, mainly affects older people and, because more people than ever are living to a ripe old age, experts estimate that, by 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia. At present, there is no cure for dementia although drugs can be used to manage some of the symptoms. Risk factors for dementia include physical inactivity, infrequent participation in mentally or socially stimulating activities, and common vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking. In addition, some studies have reported that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is associated with an increased risk of dementia. MCI can be seen as an intermediate state between normal cognitive aging (becoming increasingly forgetful) and dementia although many people with MCI never develop dementia, and some types of MCI can be static or self-limiting. Individuals with MCI have cognitive problems that are more severe than those normally seen in people of a similar age but they have no other symptoms of dementia and are able to look after themselves. The best studied form of MCI—amnestic MCI (aMCI)—is characterized by memory problems such as misplacing things and forgetting appointments.
Why Was This Study Done?
Much of the expected increase in dementia will occur in low and middle income countries (LAMICs) because these countries have rapidly aging populations. Given that aMCI is frequently used to define groups of people who may be at risk of developing dementia, it would be useful to know what proportion of community-dwelling older adults in LAMICs have aMCI (the prevalence of aMCI). Such information might help governments plan their future health care and social support needs. In this cross-sectional, population-based study, the researchers estimate the prevalence of aMCI in eight LAMICs using data collected by the 10/66 Dementia Research Group. They also investigate the association of aMCI with sociodemographic factors (for example, age, gender, and education), disability, and neuropsychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, apathy, irritability, and depression. A cross-sectional study collects data on a population at a single time point; the 10/66 Dementia Research Group is building an evidence base to inform the development and implementation of policies for improving the health and social welfare of older people in LAMICs, particularly people with dementia.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In cross-sectional surveys carried out in six Latin American LAMICS, China, and India, more than 15,000 elderly individuals without dementia completed standardized assessments of their mental and physical health and their cognitive function. Interviews with relatives and carers provided further details about the participant's cognitive decline and about neuropsychiatric symptoms. The researchers developed an algorithm (set of formulae) that used the data collected in these surveys to diagnose aMCI in the study participants. Finally, they used statistical methods to analyze the prevalence, distribution, and impact of aMCI in the eight LAMICs. The researchers report that aMCI was associated with disability, anxiety, apathy, and irritability but not with depression and that the prevalence of aMCI ranged from 0.8% in China to 4.3% in India. Other analyses show that, considered across all eight countries, aMCI was modestly associated with being male (men had a slightly higher prevalence of aMCI than women) and with having fewer assets but was not associated with age or education.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that aMCI, as diagnosed using the algorithm developed by the researchers, is consistently associated with higher disability and with neuropsychiatric symptoms in the LAMICs studied but not with most sociodemographic factors. Because prevalidated and standardized measurements were applied consistently in all the countries and a common algorithm was used to define aMCI, these findings also suggest that the prevalence of aMCI varies markedly among LAMIC populations and is similar to or slightly lower than the prevalence most often reported for European and North American populations. Although longitudinal studies are now needed to investigate the extent to which aMCI can be used as risk marker for further cognitive decline and dementia in these settings, the large absolute numbers of older people with aMCI in LAMICs revealed here potentially has important implications for health care and social service planning in these rapidly aging and populous regions of the world.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Alzheimer's Disease International is the international federation of Alzheimer associations around the world; it provides links to individual associations, information about dementia, and links to three World Alzheimer Reports; information about the 10/66 Dementia Research Group is also available on this web site
The Alzheimer's Society provides information for patients and carers about dementia, including information on MCI and personal stories about living with dementia
The Alzheimer's Association also provides information for patients and carers about dementia and about MCI, and personal stories about dementia
A BBC radio program that includes an interview with a man with MCI is available
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about MCI and dementia (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3274506  PMID: 22346736
2.  Urinary symptoms and incontinence in women: relationships between occurrence, age, and perceived impact. 
BACKGROUND: The prevalence of urinary symptoms that impact on quality-of-life will be important in determining resource allocation in primary care groups. AIM: To determine the prevalence of urinary symptoms and their perceived impact in a community population of women. METHOD: A postal survey using a validated self-completed questionnaire among all women aged over 18 years and registered with one general practice in a major British city. The prevalence rates and perceived impact of a wide range of urinary symptoms and their relationship with age was determined. Data were analysed using the chi-squared test and the chi-squared test for trend. Spearman's rank correlation was used to assess the relationship between symptom severity and perceived impact. RESULTS: The number of completed questionnaires returned was 2075, giving an 80% response rate. Of these, the number of women who reported some degree of incontinence in the previous month was 1414 (69%), although only 578 (30%) indicated that it had social or hygienic impact. Other lower urinary tract symptoms reported included nocturia (19%), poor stream (19%), urgency (61%), and dysuria (23%). The most troublesome symptoms were incontinence for no obvious reason, nocturnal incontinence, and nocturia, with 73%, 69%, and 63% of sufferers, respectively, finding these symptoms troublesome. CONCLUSIONS: Incontinence and other urinary symptoms are more common than previously thought. These symptoms are not always perceived as bothersome or as having a social or hygienic impact, and therefore many women who report urinary leakage do not require treatment. Nocturnal symptoms in women are commoner than might have been supposed and are extremely troublesome to sufferers.
PMCID: PMC1313561  PMID: 10818656
3.  Incongruous consultation behaviour: results from a UK-wide population survey 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:21.
Symptom characteristics are strong drivers of care seeking. Despite this, incongruous consultation behaviour occurs and has implications for both individuals and health-care services. The aim of this study was to determine how frequently incongruous consultation behaviour occurs, to examine whether it is more common for certain types of symptoms and to identify the factors associated with being an incongruous consulter.
An age and sex stratified random sample of 8,000 adults was drawn from twenty UK general practices. A postal questionnaire was used to collect detailed information on the presence and characteristics of 25 physical and psychological symptoms, actions taken to manage the symptoms, general health, attitudes to symptom management and demographic/socio-economic details. Two types of incongruous consultation behaviour were examined: i) consultation with a GP for symptoms self-rated as low impact and ii) no consultation with a GP for symptoms self-rated as high impact.
A fifth of all symptoms experienced resulted in consultation behaviour which was incongruous based on respondents' own rating of the symptoms' impact. Low impact consultations were not common, although symptoms indicative of a potentially serious condition resulted in a higher proportion of low impact consultations. High impact non-consultations were more common, although there was no clear pattern in the type of associated symptoms. Just under half of those experiencing symptoms in the previous two weeks were categorised as an incongruous consulter (low impact consulter: 8.3%, high impact non-consulter: 37.1%). Employment status, having a chronic condition, poor health, and feeling that reassurance or advice from a health professional is important were associated with being a low impact consulter. Younger age, employment status, being an ex-smoker, poor health and feeling that not wasting the GPs time is important were associated with being a high impact non-consulter.
This is one of the first studies to examine incongruous consultation behaviour for a range of symptoms. High impact non-consultations were common and may have important health implications, particularly for symptoms indicative of serious disease. More research is now needed to examine incongruous consultation behaviour and its impact on both the public's health and health service use.
PMCID: PMC3338366  PMID: 22433072
Signs & symptoms; Community-based; Health care services; Primary care
4.  Secondary Outcomes of a Pilot Randomized Trial of Azithromycin Treatment for Asthma 
PLoS Clinical Trials  2006;1(2):e11.
The respiratory pathogen Chlamydia pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae) produces acute and chronic lung infections and is associated with asthma. Evidence for effectiveness of antichlamydial antibiotics in asthma is limited. The primary objective of this pilot study was to investigate the feasibility of performing an asthma clinical trial in practice settings where most asthma is encountered and managed. The secondary objectives were to investigate (1) whether azithromycin treatment would affect any asthma outcomes and (2) whether C. pneumoniae serology would be related to outcomes. This report presents the secondary results.
Randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded (participants, physicians, study personnel, data analysts), allocation-concealed parallel group clinical trial.
Community-based health-care settings located in four states and one Canadian province.
Adults with stable, persistent asthma.
Azithromycin (six weekly doses) or identical matching placebo, plus usual community care.
Outcome Measures:
Juniper Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (Juniper AQLQ), symptom, and medication changes from baseline (pretreatment) to 3 mo posttreatment (follow-up); C. pneumoniae IgG and IgA antibodies at baseline and follow-up.
Juniper AQLQ improved by 0.25 (95% confidence interval; −0.3, 0.8) units, overall asthma symptoms improved by 0.68 (0.1, 1.3) units, and rescue inhaler use decreased by 0.59 (−0.5, 1.6) daily administrations in azithromycin-treated compared to placebo-treated participants. Baseline IgA antibodies were positively associated with worsening overall asthma symptoms at follow-up (p = 0.04), but IgG was not (p = 0.63). Overall asthma symptom improvement attributable to azithromycin was 28% in high IgA participants versus 12% in low IgA participants (p for interaction = 0.27).
Azithromycin did not improve Juniper AQLQ but appeared to improve overall asthma symptoms. Larger community-based trials of antichlamydial antibiotics for asthma are warranted.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Chlamydia pneumoniae is a common bacterium thought to be responsible for a substantial proportion of community-acquired pneumonia and bronchitis infections. There is some observational evidence associating chronic C. pneumoniae infection with more severe symptoms in people with asthma. However, there are very little data from clinical trials determining whether treatment with antibiotics active against C. pneumoniae has an effect on the control of asthma.
What this trial shows: In this trial, the researchers randomized 45 adults who were being treated for asthma in primary care to receive either azithromycin (an antibiotic active against C. pneumoniae) or placebo, in addition to their usual asthma care. Participants were followed up for 3 mo after completion of treatment, during which time participants recorded data relating to their overall symptoms and daily activities on a 5-point scale, and use of bronchodilators. At the start of the trial, and at 3-mo follow-up, participants also completed a quality-of-life questionnaire using a validated scale. The primary objective of this trial was to investigate the feasibility of running an asthma trial in the primary care setting, and in using IVR telephone systems to collect the outcome data, reported in [13]. In this paper, the asthma outcomes are reported. Participants receiving azithromycin did not show a significant improvement in quality of life at 3-mo follow-up as compared to participants receiving placebo. However, the investigators did see a significant improvement in the overall symptoms recorded by participants receiving azithromycin, as compared to placebo.
Strengths and limitations: The randomization methods in the trial were appropriate, as was the choice of placebo as a comparison for azithromycin. However, the number of participants in the trial was small, and it is likely that many more participants would need to be recruited to conclusively demonstrate or disprove an effect of azithromycin on asthma-related quality of life. Further, the trial used three different measures for asthma outcomes: (1) the quality-of-life questionnaire, (2) measurement of symptoms and daily activities on a 5-point scale, and (3) bronchodilator use. Only the quality-of-life questionnaire is validated, making it difficult to compare the results with those of other asthma trials.
Contribution to the evidence: This trial provides suggestive evidence that azithromycin may have benefits in the treatment of asthma, but should not on its own lead to a change in practice. The study provides a good basis for a larger randomized trial of such treatments, which would need to assess reliably the effect of these drugs not only on symptoms but also on quality of life. Information gained from this trial would help to design several aspects of future studies, e.g., their size, follow-up duration, and suitable outcome measures.
PMCID: PMC1488900  PMID: 16871333
5.  Prevalence of lower gastrointestinal symptoms and associated consultation behaviour in a British elderly population determined by face-to-face interview. 
BACKGROUND: The incidence of organic lower gastrointestinal disease increases with age. However, the prevalence of lower gastrointestinal symptoms in a British elderly population is unclear, with previous epidemiological studies focusing on younger populations. Furthermore, there is little information about consultation behaviour associated with lower gastrointestinal symptoms. AIM: To determine the prevalence of lower gastrointestinal symptoms reported by randomly selected, elderly community subjects. METHODS: An age- and sex-stratified random sample of patients aged 65 years and over was drawn from a general practice register (n = 842). Those who had not refused to participate in an initial postal survey were invited to participate in a semi-structured physician interview at their own home to assess lower gastrointestinal symptomatology (n = 745). Non-participation bias and service use of all subjects were assessed from practice records. RESULTS: Five hundred and ninety-six (71%) patients were interviewed. Fifty-seven per cent of all participants had at least one lower gastrointestinal symptom. Individual symptoms and symptom complexes were common, affecting up to 32% of subjects. Only 24% of subjects with lower gastrointestinal symptoms consulted their general practitioner (GP) with such symptoms in the previous year. As few as 31% of subjects with new onset of the significant symptoms of rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and a change in bowel habit consulted their GP. CONCLUSION: Lower gastrointestinal symptoms are common in a British elderly population and an important reason for GP consultation.
PMCID: PMC1313820  PMID: 11127169
6.  How common are symptoms? Evidence from a New Zealand national telephone survey 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e005374.
To assess the frequency of symptoms in a general population sample over the previous week and the associations between symptom reporting and demographic factors, medical visits and medication use.
A representative general population sample (n=1000) was recruited using random digit dialling. Participants were asked whether they had experienced any of a list of 46 symptoms in the previous 7 days and if so, whether the symptom was mild, moderate or severe. Demographic data and information on medical visits and medication use were also collected.
Symptom reporting was very common. The median number of symptoms reported by participants in the previous week was 5 with only 10.6% of participants reporting no symptoms. The five most common symptoms in the previous 7 days were: back pain (38%), fatigue (36%), headache (35%), runny or stuffy nose (34%) and joint pain (34%). The five symptoms rated highest in terms of severity were sexual difficulties, vomiting, tremor, suicidal thoughts and sleep problems. Symptom reporting was significantly positively associated with medical visits in the previous year and current medication taking. Women reported a significantly greater number of symptoms. We found no significant association between age or household size and symptom reporting.
This population-based study found that symptoms are more commonly experienced in the general population than previously estimated and are strongly associated with healthcare visits. Appreciation of the high prevalence of symptoms may help normalise the experience of symptom reports among the general population.
PMCID: PMC4067867  PMID: 24928596
Public Health; General Medicine (see Internal Medicine); Epidemiology
7.  Respiratory symptoms in adults are related to impaired quality of life, regardless of asthma and COPD: results from the European community respiratory health survey 
Respiratory symptoms are common in the general population, and their presence is related to Health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The objective was to describe the association of respiratory symptoms with HRQoL in subjects with and without asthma or COPD and to investigate the role of atopy, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), and lung function in HRQoL.
The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) I and II provided data on HRQoL, lung function, respiratory symptoms, asthma, atopy, and BHR from 6009 subjects. Generic HRQoL was assessed through the physical component summary (PCS) score and the mental component summary (MCS) score of the SF-36.
Factor analyses and linear regressions adjusted for age, gender, smoking, occupation, BMI, comorbidity, and study centre were conducted.
Having breathlessness at rest in ECRHS II was associated with mean score (95% CI) impairment in PCS of -8.05 (-11.18, -4.93). Impairment in MCS score in subjects waking up with chest tightness was -4.02 (-5.51, -2.52). The magnitude of HRQoL impairment associated with respiratory symptoms was similar for subjects with and without asthma/COPD. Adjustments for atopy, BHR, and lung function did not explain the association of respiratory symptoms and HRQoL in subjects without asthma and/or COPD.
Subjects with respiratory symptoms had poorer HRQoL; including subjects without a diagnosis of asthma or COPD. These findings suggest that respiratory symptoms in the absence of a medical diagnosis of asthma or COPD are by no means trivial, and that clarifying the nature and natural history of respiratory symptoms is a relevant challenge.
Several community studies have estimated the prevalence of common respiratory symptoms like cough, dyspnoea, and wheeze in adults [1-3]. Although the prevalence varies to a large degree between studies and geographical areas, respiratory symptoms are quite common. The prevalences of respiratory symptoms in the European Community Respiratory Health Study (ECRHS) varied from one percent to 35% [1]. In fact, two studies have reported that more than half of the adult population suffers from one or more respiratory symptoms [4,5].
Respiratory symptoms are important markers of the risk of having or developing disease. Respiratory symptoms have been shown to be predictors for lung function decline [6-8], asthma [9,10], and even all-cause mortality in a general population study [11]. In patients with a known diagnosis of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory symptoms are important determinants of reduced health related quality of life (HRQoL) [12-15]. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms exceeds the combined prevalences of asthma and COPD, and both asthma and COPD are frequently undiagnosed diseases [16-18]. Thus, the high prevalence of respipratory symptoms may mirror undiagnosed and untreated disease.
The common occurrence of respiratory symptoms calls for attention to how these symptoms affect health also in subjects with no diagnosis of obstructive airways disease. Impaired HRQoL in the presence of respiratory symptoms have been found in two population-based studies [6,19], but no study of respiratory sypmtoms and HRQoL have separate analyses for subjects with and without asthma and COPD, and no study provide information about extensive objective measurements of respiratory health.
The ECRHS is a randomly sampled, multi-cultural, population based cohort study. The ECRHS included measurements of atopy, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), and lung function, and offers a unique opportunity to investigate how respiratory symptoms affect HRQoL among subjects both with and without obstructive lung disease.
In the present paper we aimed to: 1) Describe the relationship between respiratory symptoms and HRQoL in an international adult general population and: 2) To assess whether this relationship varied with presence of asthma and/or COPD, or presence of objective functional markers like atopy and BHR.
PMCID: PMC2954977  PMID: 20875099
8.  Prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome: a community survey 
Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common health problem affecting a substantial proportion of the population. Many individuals with symptoms of IBS do not seek medical attention or have stopped consulting because of disillusionment with current treatment options. Such patients may choose to re-consult with the advent of new therapies with a resulting impact on health services.
Aim: To generate reliable estimates of the prevalence of IBS by age, sex and symptom group.
Design of study: Postal survey.
Setting: Patients selected from registers of eight general practices in north and west Birmingham.
Method: Eight thousand six hundred and forty-six patients aged ≥18 years were randomly selected from practice lists. Selected patients received a questionnaire, which included diagnostic criteria for IBS. A second questionnaire, seeking more detailed information, was sent to those whose responses indicated the presence of IBS symptoms.
Results: Of the 8386 patients surveyed 4807 (57.3%) useable replies were received. The community-based prevalence of IBS was 10.5% (6.6% of men and 14.0% of women). Overall the symptom profiles were characterised by diarrhoea (25.4%), constipation (24.1%) and alternating symptoms (46.7%). Over half (56%) of all patients had consulted their general practitioner within the past 6 months and 16% had seen a hospital specialist. A quarter of patients consulted more than twice and 16% were referred to secondary care; almost half were on prescribed medication. However, the majority of patients were self-treated. Less than half of those currently reporting symptoms of IBS according to the Rome II criteria had received a diagnosis of IBS. Reduced quality of life and a previous diagnosis of a stomach ulcer were identified as predictors of consultation.
Conclusion: Quality of life was significantly reduced in patients with IBS. There is a substantial burden on primary healthcare services despite over half of those with symptoms also self-medicating. The Rome II diagnostic criteria identified those most affected by their symptoms and are a valid clinical tool. Population-based health surveys will need to supplement the Rome criteria with questions aiming to identify patients formally diagnosed but whose symptoms are currently under control if prevalence is to be reliably estimated.
PMCID: PMC1324800  PMID: 15239910
irritable bowel syndrome; prevalence; quality of life
9.  Epidemiology of upper gastrointestinal symptoms in Brazil (EpiGastro): A population-based study according to sex and age group 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(46):17388-17398.
AIM: To determine the prevalences of symptoms consistent with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and dyspepsia in South America.
METHODS: A telephone survey was conducted among adult owners of land-based telephones in São Paulo, Brazil, using previously validated computer-assisted sampling and survey protocols. The Portuguese-language survey included (1) sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., weight, height, smoking) and comorbidities; (2) dietary habits; (3) presence of symptoms consistent with GERD or dyspepsia within the prior 3 mo; and (4) use of medications and other therapies to manage symptoms. Data were stratified post-hoc into three homogeneous geographical regions of São Paulo according to the Social Exclusion Indices of the districts and postal codes. Survey response data from each respondent were weighted by the numbers of adults and landline telephones in each household. The analyses were weighted to account for sampling design and to be representative of the São Paulo population according to city census data.
RESULTS: Among 4570 households contacted, an adult from 3050 (66.7%) agreed to participate. The nonresponse rate was 33.3%. The mean (SE) respondent age was 42.6 (16.0) years. More than half of all respondents were women (53.1%), aged 18 through 49 years (66.7%), married or cohabitating (52.5%), and/or above normal-weight standards (i.e., 35.3% overweight and 16.3% obese). A total of 26.5% of women were perimenopausal. More than 20% of respondents reported highly frequent symptoms consistent with GERD (e.g., gastric burning sensation = 20.8%) or dyspepsia (e.g., abdominal swelling/distension = 20.9%) at least once per month. Prevalences of these symptoms were significantly (approximately 1.5- to 2.0-fold) higher among women than men but did not vary significantly as a function of advancing age. For instance, 14.1% of women reported that they experienced stomach burning (symptom of GERD) at least twice per week, compared to 8.4% of men (P = 0.012 by χ2 test). A total of 15.7% of women reported that they experienced abdominal swelling (symptom of dyspepsia) at least twice per week, compared to 6.4% of men (P < 0.001 by χ2 test). Despite frequent manifestations of GERD or dyspepsia, most (≥ 90%) respondents reported that they neither received prescription medications from physicians, nor took behavioral measures (e.g., dietary modifications), to manage symptoms.
CONCLUSION: Symptoms consistent with dyspepsia and GERD are prevalent in Brazil and represent major public-health and clinical challenges.
PMCID: PMC4265597  PMID: 25516650
Dyspepsia; Epidemiology; Esophagus; Gastroesophageal reflux; Prevalence; Stomach
10.  Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000132.
In a cohort of 6,441 volunteers followed over an average of 8.2 years, Naresh Punjabi and colleagues find sleep-disordered breathing to be independently associated with mortality and identify predictive characteristics.
Sleep-disordered breathing is a common condition associated with adverse health outcomes including hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The overall objective of this study was to determine whether sleep-disordered breathing and its sequelae of intermittent hypoxemia and recurrent arousals are associated with mortality in a community sample of adults aged 40 years or older.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively examined whether sleep-disordered breathing was associated with an increased risk of death from any cause in 6,441 men and women participating in the Sleep Heart Health Study. Sleep-disordered breathing was assessed with the apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) based on an in-home polysomnogram. Survival analysis and proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate hazard ratios for mortality after adjusting for age, sex, race, smoking status, body mass index, and prevalent medical conditions. The average follow-up period for the cohort was 8.2 y during which 1,047 participants (587 men and 460 women) died. Compared to those without sleep-disordered breathing (AHI: <5 events/h), the fully adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality in those with mild (AHI: 5.0–14.9 events/h), moderate (AHI: 15.0–29.9 events/h), and severe (AHI: ≥30.0 events/h) sleep-disordered breathing were 0.93 (95% CI: 0.80–1.08), 1.17 (95% CI: 0.97–1.42), and 1.46 (95% CI: 1.14–1.86), respectively. Stratified analyses by sex and age showed that the increased risk of death associated with severe sleep-disordered breathing was statistically significant in men aged 40–70 y (hazard ratio: 2.09; 95% CI: 1.31–3.33). Measures of sleep-related intermittent hypoxemia, but not sleep fragmentation, were independently associated with all-cause mortality. Coronary artery disease–related mortality associated with sleep-disordered breathing showed a pattern of association similar to all-cause mortality.
Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with all-cause mortality and specifically that due to coronary artery disease, particularly in men aged 40–70 y with severe sleep-disordered breathing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
About 1 in 10 women and 1 in 4 men have a chronic condition called sleep-disordered breathing although most are unaware of their problem. Sleep-disordered breathing, which is commonest in middle-aged and elderly people, is characterized by numerous, brief (10 second or so) interruptions of breathing during sleep. These interruptions, which usually occur when relaxation of the upper airway muscles decreases airflow, lower the level of oxygen in the blood and, as a result, affected individuals are frequently aroused from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing include loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as losing weight (excess fat around the neck increases airway collapse) and smoking cessation. Affected people can also use special devices to prevent them sleeping on their backs, but for severe sleep-disordered breathing, doctors often recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a machine that pressurizes the upper airway through a face mask to keep it open.
Why Was This Study Done?
Sleep-disordered breathing is a serious condition. It is associated with several adverse health conditions including coronary artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart, a condition that can cause a heart attack) and daytime sleepiness that can affect an individual's driving ability. In addition, several clinic- and community-based studies suggest that sleep-disordered sleeping may increase a person's risk of dying. However, because these studies have been small and have often failed to allow for other conditions and characteristics that affect an individual's risk of dying (“confounding factors”), they provide inconsistent or incomplete information about the potential association between sleep-disordered breathing and the risk of death. In this prospective cohort study (part of the Sleep Heart Health Study, which is researching the effects of sleep-disordered breathing on cardiovascular health), the researchers examine whether sleep-disordered breathing is associated with all-cause mortality (death from any cause) in a large community sample of adults. A prospective cohort study is one in which a group of participants is enrolled and then followed forward in time (in this case for several years) to see what happens to them.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
At enrollment, the study participants—more than 6,000 people aged 40 years or older, none of whom were being treated for sleep-disordered breathing—had a health examination. Their night-time breathing, sleep patterns, and blood oxygen levels were also assessed and these data used to calculate each participant's apnea-hypopnea index (AHI)—the number of apneas and hypopneas per hour. During the study follow-up period, 1,047 participants died. Compared to participants without sleep-disordered sleeping, participants with severe sleep-disordered breathing (an AHI of ≥30) were about one and a half times as likely to die from any cause after adjustment for potential confounding factors. People with milder sleep-disordered breathing did not have a statistically significant increased risk of dying. After dividing the participants into subgroups according to their age and sex, men aged 40–70 years with severe sleep-disordered breathing had a statistically increased risk of dying from any cause (twice the risk of men of a similar age without sleep-disordered breathing). Finally, death from coronary artery disease was also associated with sleep-disordered breathing in men but not in women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that sleep-disordered breathing is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in men aged 40–70 years, even after allowing for known confounding factors. They also suggest that the increased risk of death is specifically associated with coronary artery disease although further studies are needed to confirm this finding because it was based on the analysis of a small subgroup of study participants. Although this study is much larger than previous investigations into the association between sleep-disordered breathing and all-cause mortality, it has several limitations including its reliance on a single night's measurements for the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that clinical trials should now be started to assess whether treatment can reduce the increased risk of death that seems to be associated with this common disorder.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has information (including a video) about sleep-disordered breathing (sleep apnea) (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Heath Service also provides information for patients about sleep apnea
MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about sleep-disordered breathing (in English and Spanish)
More information on the Sleep Heart Health Study is available
PMCID: PMC2722083  PMID: 19688045
11.  Biventricular Pacing (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy) 
Executive Summary
In 2002, (before the establishment of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee), the Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a health technology policy assessment on biventricular (BiV) pacing, also called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). The goal of treatment with BiV pacing is to improve cardiac output for people in heart failure (HF) with conduction defect on ECG (wide QRS interval) by synchronizing ventricular contraction. The Medical Advisory Secretariat concluded that there was evidence of short (6 months) and longer-term (12 months) effectiveness in terms of cardiac function and quality of life (QoL). More recently, a hospital submitted an application to the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee to review CRT, and the Medical Advisory Secretariat subsequently updated its health technology assessment.
Chronic HF results from any structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart to act as a pump. It is estimated that 1% to 5% of the general population (all ages) in Europe have chronic HF. (1;2) About one-half of the patients with HF are women, and about 40% of men and 60% of women with this condition are aged older than 75 years.
The incidence (i.e., the number of new cases in a specified period) of chronic HF is age dependent: from 1 to 5 per 1,000 people each year in the total population, to as high as 30 to 40 per 1,000 people each year in those aged 75 years and older. Hence, in an aging society, the prevalence (i.e., the number of people with a given disease or condition at any time) of HF is increasing, despite a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
A recent study revealed 28,702 patients were hospitalized for first-time HF in Ontario between April 1994 and March 1997. (3) Women comprised 51% of the cohort. Eighty-five percent were aged 65 years or older, and 58% were aged 75 years or older.
Patients with chronic HF experience shortness of breath, a limited capacity for exercise, high rates of hospitalization and rehospitalization, and die prematurely. (2;4) The New York Heart Association (NYHA) has provided a commonly used functional classification for the severity of HF (2;5):
Class I: No limitation of physical activity. No symptoms with ordinary exertion.
Class II: Slight limitations of physical activity. Ordinary activity causes symptoms.
Class III: Marked limitation of physical activity. Less than ordinary activity causes symptoms. Asymptomatic at rest.
Class IV: Inability to carry out any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms at rest.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that 35% of patients with HF are in functional NYHA class I; 35% are in class II; 25%, class III; and 5%, class IV. (5) Surveys (2) suggest that from 5% to 15% of patients with HF have persistent severe symptoms, and that the remainder of patients with HF is evenly divided between those with mild and moderately severe symptoms.
Overall, patients with chronic, stable HF have an annual mortality rate of about 10%. (2) One-third of patients with new-onset HF will die within 6 months of diagnosis. These patients do not survive to enter the pool of those with “chronic” HF. About 60% of patients with incident HF will die within 3 years, and there is limited evidence that the overall prognosis has improved in the last 15 years.
To date, the diagnosis and management of chronic HF has concentrated on patients with the clinical syndrome of HF accompanied by severe left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Major changes in treatment have resulted from a better understanding of the pathophysiology of HF and the results of large clinical trials. Treatment for chronic HF includes lifestyle management, drugs, cardiac surgery, or implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. Despite pharmacologic advances, which include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers, spironolactone, and digoxin, many patients remain symptomatic on maximally tolerated doses.
The Technology
Owing to the limitations of drug therapy, cardiac transplantation and device therapies have been used to try to improve QoL and survival of patients with chronic HF. Ventricular pacing is an emerging treatment option for patients with severe HF that does not respond well to medical therapy. Traditionally, indications for pacing include bradyarrhythmia, sick sinus syndrome, atrioventricular block, and other indications, including combined sick sinus syndrome with atrioventricular block and neurocardiogenic syncope. Recently, BiV pacing as a new, adjuvant therapy for patients with chronic HF and mechanical dyssynchrony has been investigated. Ventricular dysfunction is a sign of HF; and, if associated with severe intraventricular conduction delay, it can cause dyssynchronous ventricular contractions resulting in decreased ventricular filling. The therapeutic intent is to activate both ventricles simultaneously, thereby improving the mechanical efficiency of the ventricles.
About 30% of patients with chronic HF have intraventricular conduction defects. (6) These conduction abnormalities progress over time and lead to discoordinated contraction of an already hemodynamically compromised ventricle. Intraventricular conduction delay has been associated with clinical instability and an increased risk of death in patients with HF. (7) Hence, BiV pacing, which involves pacing left and right ventricles simultaneously, may provide a more coordinated pattern of ventricular contraction and thereby potentially reduce QRS duration, and intraventricular and interventricular asynchrony. People with advanced chronic HF, a wide QRS complex (i.e., the portion of the electrocardiogram comprising the Q, R, and S waves, together representing ventricular depolarization), low left ventricular ejection fraction and contraction dyssynchrony in a viable myocardium and normal sinus rhythm, are the target patients group for BiV pacing. One-half of all deaths in HF patients are sudden, and the mode of death is arrhythmic in most cases. Internal cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) combined with BiV pacemakers are therefore being increasingly considered for patients with HF who are at high risk of sudden death.
Current Implantation Technique for Cardiac Resynchronization
Conventional dual-chamber pacemakers have only 2 leads: 1 placed in the right atrium and the other in the right ventricle. The technique used for BiV pacemaker implantation also uses right atrial and ventricular pacing leads, in addition to a left ventricle lead advanced through the coronary sinus into a vein that runs along the ventricular free wall. This permits simultaneous pacing of both ventricles to allow resynchronization of the left ventricle septum and free wall.
Mode of Operation
Permanent pacing systems consist of an implantable pulse generator that contains a battery and electronic circuitry, together with 1 (single-chamber pacemaker) or 2 (dual-chamber pacemaker) leads. Leads conduct intrinsic atrial or ventricular signals to the sensing circuitry and deliver the pulse generator charge to the myocardium (muscle of the heart).
Complications of Biventricular Pacemaker Implantation
The complications that may arise when a BiV pacemaker is implanted are similar to those that occur with standard pacemaker implantation, including pneumothorax, perforation of the great vessels or the myocardium, air embolus, infection, bleeding, and arrhythmias. Moreover, left ventricular pacing through the coronary sinus can be associated with rupture of the sinus as another complication.
Conclusion of 2003 Review of Biventricular Pacemakers by the Medical Advisory Secretariat
The randomized controlled trials (RCTs) the Medical Advisory Secretariat retrieved analyzed chronic HF patients that were assessed for up to 6 months. Other studies have been prospective, but nonrandomized, not double-blinded, uncontrolled and/or have had a limited or uncalculated sample size. Short-term studies have focused on acute hemodynamic analyses. The authors of the RCTs reported improved cardiac function and QoL up to 6 months after BiV pacemaker implantation; therefore, there is level 1 evidence that patients in ventricular dyssynchrony who remain symptomatic after medication might benefit from this technology. Based on evidence made available to the Medical Advisory Secretariat by a manufacturer, (8) it appears that these 6-month improvements are maintained at 12-month follow-up.
To date, however, there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use of combined ICD/BiV devices in patients with chronic HF with prolonged QRS intervals.
Summary of Updated Findings Since the 2003 Review
Since the Medical Advisory Secretariat’s review in 2003 of biventricular pacemakers, 2 large RCTs have been published: COMPANION (9) and CARE-HF. (10) The characteristics of each trial are shown in Table 1. The COMPANION trial had a number of major methodological limitations compared with the CARE-HF trial.
Characteristics of the COMPANION and CARE-HF Trials*
BiV indicates biventricular; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; EF, ejection fraction; QRS, the interval representing the Q, R and S waves on an electrocardiogram; FDA, United States Food and Drug Administration.
Overall, CARE-HF showed that BiV pacing significantly improves mortality, QoL, and NYHA class in patients with severe HF and a wide QRS interval (Tables 2 and 3).
CARE-HF Results: Primary and Secondary Endpoints*
BiV indicates biventricular; NNT, number needed to treat.
Cleland JGF, Daubert J, Erdmann E, Freemantle N, Gras D, Kappenberger L et al. The effect of cardiac resynchronization on morbidity and mortality in heart failure (CARE-HF). New England Journal of Medicine 2005; 352:1539-1549; Copyright 2003 Massachusettes Medical Society. All rights reserved. (10)
CARE H-F Results: NYHA Class and Quality of Life Scores*
Minnesota Living with Heart Failure scores range from 0 to 105; higher scores reflect poorer QoL.
European Quality of Life–5 Dimensions scores range from -0.594 to 1.000; 1.000 indicates fully healthy; 0, dead
Cleland JGF, Daubert J, Erdmann E, Freemantle N, Gras D, Kappenberger L et al. The effect of cardiac resynchronization on morbidity and mortality in heart failure (CARE-HF). New England Journal of Medicine 2005; 352:1539-1549; Copyright 2005 Massachusettes Medical Society. All rights reserved.(10)
GRADE Quality of Evidence
The quality of these 3 trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria, (12) (Table 4).
Quality refers to criteria such as the adequacy of allocation concealment, blinding, and follow-up.
Consistency refers to the similarity of estimates of effect across studies. If there is an important unexplained inconsistency in the results, confidence in the estimate of effect for that outcome decreases. Differences in the direction of effect, the size of the differences in effect, and the significance of the differences guide the decision about whether important inconsistency exists.
Directness refers to the extent to which the people interventions and outcome measures are similar to those of interest. For example, there may be uncertainty about the directness of the evidence if the people of interest are older, sicker, or have more comorbid conditions than do the people in the studies.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, (12) the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
High: Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence on the estimate of effect.
Moderate: Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.
Low: Further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
Very low: Any estimate of effect is very uncertain.
Quality of Evidence: CARE-HF and COMPANION
Overall, there is evidence that BiV pacemakers are effective for improving mortality, QoL, and functional status in patients with NYHA class III/IV HF, an EF less than 0.35, a QRS interval greater than 120 ms, who are refractory to drug therapy.
As per the GRADE Working Group, recommendations considered the following 4 main factors:
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome
The quality of the evidence (Table 4)
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 5 shows the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For BiV pacing, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is moderate: the quality of the evidence is moderate/high (because of some uncertainty due to methodological limitations in the study design, e.g., no blinding), but there is also some risk/uncertainty in terms of the estimated prevalence and wide cost-effectiveness estimates (Table 5).
For the combination BiV pacing/ICD, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is weak—the quality of the evidence is low (because of uncertainty due to methodological limitations in the study design), but there is also some risk/uncertainty in terms of the estimated prevalence, high cost, and high budget impact (Table 5). There are indirect, low-quality comparisons of the effectiveness of BiV pacemakers compared with the combination BiV/ICD devices.
A stronger recommendation can be made for BiV pacing only compared with the combination BiV/ICD device for patients with an EF less than or equal to 0.35, and a QRS interval over or equal to 120 ms, and NYHA III/IV symptoms, and refractory to optimal medical therapy (Table 5).
There is moderate/high-quality evidence that BiV pacemakers significantly improve mortality, QoL, and functional status.
There is low-quality evidence that combined BiV/ICD devices significantly improve mortality, QoL, and functional status.
To date, there are no direct comparisons of the effectiveness of BiV pacemakers compared with the combined BiV/ICD devices in terms of mortality, QoL, and functional status.
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation
BiV refers to biventricular; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; NNT, number needed to treat.
PMCID: PMC3382419  PMID: 23074464
12.  Expectations for consultations and antibiotics for respiratory tract infection in primary care: the RTI clinical iceberg 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(612):e429-e436.
Respiratory tract infection (RTI) is the commonest indication for community antibiotic prescriptions. Prescribing is rising and is influenced by patients’ consulting behaviour and beliefs.
To build up a profile of the ‘RTI clinical iceberg’ by exploring how the general public manage RTI, visit GPs and why.
Design and setting
Two-phase qualitative and quantitative study in England.
Qualitative interviews with 17 participants with acute RTI visiting pharmacies in England, and face-to-face questionnaire survey of 1767 adults ≥15 years in households in England during January 2011.
Qualitative interviews: interviewees with RTI visited GPs if they considered their symptoms were prolonged, or severe enough to cause pain, or interfered with daily activities or sleep. Questionnaire: 58% reported having had an RTI in the previous 6 months, and 19.7% (95% CI = 16.8 to 22.9%) of these contacted or visited their GP surgery for this, most commonly because ‘the symptoms were severe’; or ‘after several days the symptoms hadn’t improved’; 10.3% of those experiencing an RTI (or 53.1% of those contacting their GP about it) expected an antibiotic prescription. Responders were more likely to believe antibiotics would be effective for a cough with green rather than clear phlegm. Perceptions of side effects of antibiotics did not influence expectations for antibiotics. Almost all who reported asking for an antibiotic were prescribed one, but 25% did not finish them.
One-fifth of those with an RTI contact their GP and most who ask for antibiotics are prescribed them. A better public understanding about the lack of benefit of antibiotics for most RTIs and addressing concerns about illness duration and severity, could reduce GP consultations and antibiotic prescriptions for RTI.
PMCID: PMC3693799  PMID: 23834879
antibiotics; beliefs; family practice; qualitative research; questionnaire; respiratory tract infections
13.  Health effects following the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption: a cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001851.
The study aimed to determine whether exposure to a volcanic eruption was associated with increased prevalence of physical and/or mental symptoms.
Cohort, with non-exposed control group.
Natural disasters like volcanic eruptions constitute a major public-health threat. The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull exposed residents in southern Iceland to continuous ash fall for more than 5 weeks in spring 2010. This study was conducted during November 2010–March 2011, 6–9 months after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption.
Adult (18–80 years of age) eruption-exposed South Icelanders (N=1148) and a control population of residents of Skagafjörður, North Iceland (N=510). The participation rate was 72%.
Main outcome measures
Physical symptoms in the previous year (chronic), in the previous month (recent), General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) measured psychological morbidity.
The likelihood of having symptoms during the last month was higher in the exposed population, such as; tightness in the chest (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.1 to 5.8), cough (OR 2.6; 95% CI 1.7 to 3.9), phlegm (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.3 to 3.2), eye irritation (OR 2.9; 95% CI 2.0 to 4.1) and psychological morbidity symptoms (OR 1.3; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.7). Respiratory symptoms during the last 12 months were also more common in the exposed population; cough (OR 2.2; 95% CI 1.6 to 2.9), dyspnoea (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.1 to 2.3), although the prevalence of underlying asthma and heart disease was similar. Twice as many in the exposed population had two or more symptoms from nose, eyes or upper-respiratory tract (24% vs 13%, p<0.001); these individuals were also more likely to experience psychological morbidity (OR 4.7; 95% CI 3.4 to 6.5) compared with individuals with no symptoms. Most symptoms exhibited a dose–response pattern within the exposed population, corresponding to low, medium and high exposure to the eruption.
6–9 months after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, residents living in the exposed area, particularly those closest to the volcano, had markedly increased prevalence of various physical symptoms. A portion of the exposed population reported multiple symptoms and may be at risk for long-term physical and psychological morbidity. Studies of long-term consequences are therefore warranted.
PMCID: PMC3533043  PMID: 23144261
Epidemiology; Public Health
14.  Age-Related Patterns in Clinical Presentations and Gluten-Related Issues Among Children and Adolescents With Celiac Disease 
Celiac disease (CD) is common and often cited as an “iceberg” phenomenon (i.e., an assumed large number of undiagnosed cases). Recently, atypical or asymptomatic manifestations are becoming more commonly described in older children and adolescents. Moreover, CD diagnosis in children can be complicated by several factors, including its diverse clinical presentations, delay in recognizing CD signs and symptoms, and premature dietary gluten avoidance before the formal diagnosis of CD. To date, few studies have directly examined age-related differences in clinical characteristics and gluten-related issues among children with CD. The aim of this study was to determine age-related patterns in clinical characteristics and gluten-related issues among children with confirmed CD.
We performed a structured medical record review of biopsy-proven CD patients, aged 0–19 years, between 2000 and 2010 at a large Boston teaching hospital. Data collection included demographics, medical history, gluten-related issues, and diagnostic investigations (CD-specific serology, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, and small intestinal biopsy). The first positive duodenal biopsy with Marsh III classification defined age of diagnosis. Patients were divided into three age groups for comparisons of the aforementioned characteristics: infant-preschool group (0–5 years), school-aged group (6–11 years), and adolescence group (12–19 years).
Among 411 children with biopsy-proven CD, the mean age was 9.5 (s.d. 5.1) years. Most were female (63%) and white (96%). All children had positive CD-specific serology. Most children presented with either abdominal complaints or bowel movement changes. Overall, boys were more common among infant-preschool group compared with the other age groups. More distinct clinical manifestations (vomiting, bowel movement changes, and weight issues) were apparent in the youngest group, whereas school-aged children had more subjective abdominal complaints at the initial presentation. Conversely, the adolescents were most likely to present without any gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, but not when this was combined with absence of weight issues. Age of diagnosis was not associated with atypical extraintestinal CD presentations. Regarding the gluten-related issues, 10% of school-aged children avoided dietary gluten before the formal CD diagnosis, and 27% of the adolescents reported dietary gluten transgression within the first 12 months of diagnosis, significantly higher than the other age groups. Age differences in histopathology were also found. Whereas the infant-preschool group had a higher proportion of total villous atrophy, the older children were more likely to have gross duodenal abnormalities and chronic duodenitis suggestive of CD at the time of diagnosis.
Children and adolescents with CD have age-related patterns in both the clinical presentations and gluten-related issues. More pronounced clinical and histological features were determined in younger children, whereas older children more commonly presented with solely subjective abdominal complaints or even without any GI symptoms. However, silent and atypical extraintestinal CD presentations were comparable between age groups. In addition to the aforementioned presentations, the higher rates of dietary gluten avoidance and transgression in older children make CD diagnosis and management particularly challenging. These age-related patterns may further increase awareness, facilitate early diagnosis, and improve patient care of pediatric CD.
PMCID: PMC3365672  PMID: 23238134
15.  Symptom reporting in a general population in Norway: Results from the Ullensaker study 
Objective. To determine the number of symptoms experienced in an adult population and their relationship with self- reported health, demographic, and lifestyle factors. Design. A postal questionnaire addressing 23 different symptoms, health, demographic, and lifestyle factors. Setting. The community of Ullensaker, Norway, in 2004. Subjects. 3325 subjects (participation rate = 54.4%). Main outcome measure. Number of self-reported symptoms. Results. At least one symptom was reported by 91.9% of the participants, 46.7% reported six or more, and 17.3% reported 10 or more symptoms. Symptom reporting was frequent in all age groups, also among young people. Women reported a greater mean number of symptoms than men (6.7 vs. 5.1). Those reporting poor health, receipt of social security benefit, unemployment, low education, or obesity had most symptoms. The proportion of respondents with these characteristics increased almost linearly with increasing number of symptoms. According to an adjusted multivariate model, self-reported overall health explained 28.2 % of the variance in the number of symptoms. Conclusion. A large proportion of the responders reported a high number of symptoms. A simple method of counting symptoms may be useful in approaching patients in general and multi-symptom patients in particular, because the total burden of symptoms is strongly associated with the patient's self-reported health and may even be a predictor of future disability.
PMCID: PMC3587302  PMID: 23293843
General practice; lifestyle; medically unexplained symptoms (MUS); Norway; number of symptoms; overall health; population survey; self-reported symptoms
16.  Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation  2012;5(1):10.1016/j.pmrj.2012.06.012.
To assess the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by U.S. adults reporting neuropsychiatric symptoms and whether this prevalence changes based on the number of symptoms reported. Additional objectives include identifying patterns of CAM use, reasons for use, and disclosure of use with conventional providers in U.S. adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Secondary database analysis of a prospective survey.
A total of 23,393 U.S. adults from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.
We compared CAM use between adults with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms. Symptoms included self-reported anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, memory deficits, attention deficits, and excessive sleepiness. CAM use was defined as use of mind—body therapies (eg, meditation), biological therapies (eg, herbs), or manipulation therapies (eg, massage) or alternative medical systems (eg, Ayurveda). Statistical analysis included bivariable comparisons and multivariable logistical regression analyses.
Main Outcome Measures
The prevalence of CAM use among adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms within the previous 12 months and the comparison of CAM use between those with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms had a greater prevalence of CAM use compared with adults who did not have neuropsychiatric symptoms (43.8% versus 29.7%, P < .001); this prevalence increased with an increasing number of symptoms (trend, P < .001). Differences in the likelihood of CAM use as determined by the number of symptoms persisted after we adjusted for covariates. Twenty percent of patients used CAM because standard treatments were either too expensive or ineffective, and 25% used CAM because it was recommended by a conventional provider. Adults with at least one neuropsychiatric symptom were more likely to disclose the use of CAM to a conventional provider (47.9% versus 39.0%, P < .001).
More than 40% of adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms commonly observed in many diagnoses use CAM; an increasing number of symptoms was associated with an increased likelihood of CAM use.
PMCID: PMC3824364  PMID: 23098832
17.  Revisiting the symptom iceberg in today's primary care: results from a UK population survey 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:16.
Recent changes in UK primary care have increased the range of services and healthcare professionals available for advice. Furthermore, the UK government has promoted greater use of both self-care and the wider primary care team for managing symptoms indicative of self-limiting illness. We do not know how the public has been responding to these strategies. The aim of this study was to describe the current use of different management strategies in the UK for a range of symptoms and identify the demographic, socio-economic and symptom characteristics associated with these different approaches.
An age and sex stratified random sample of 8,000 adults (aged 18-60), drawn from twenty general practices across the UK, were sent a postal questionnaire. The questionnaire collected detailed information on 25 physical and psychological symptoms ranging from those usually indicative of minor illness to those which could be indicative of serious conditions. Information on symptom characteristics, actions taken to manage the symptoms and demographic/socio-economic details were also collected.
Just under half of all symptoms reported resulted in respondents doing nothing at all. Lay-care was used for 35% of symptoms and primary care health professionals were consulted for 12% of symptoms. OTC medicine use was the most common lay-care strategy (used for 25% of all symptom episodes). The GP was the most common health professional consulted (consulted for 8% of all symptom episodes) while use of other primary care health professionals was very small (each consulted for less than 2% of symptom episodes). The actions taken for individual symptoms varied substantially although some broad patterns emerged. Symptom characteristics (in particular severity, duration and interference with daily life) were more commonly associated with actions taken than demographic or socio-economic characteristics.
While the use of lay-care was widespread, use of the primary care team other than the GP was low. Further research is needed to examine the public's knowledge and opinions of different primary care services to investigate why certain services are not being used to inform the future development of primary care services in the UK.
PMCID: PMC3083353  PMID: 21473756
Signs and symptoms; Symptom iceberg; Community-based; Health care services; Primary care
18.  Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Prevalence and Risk Factors  
Journal of Athletic Training  2006;41(3):337-340.
Reference/Citation: Salgado CD, Farr BM, Calfee DP. Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a meta-analysis of prevalence and risk factors. Clin Infect Dis.20033613113912522744.
Clinical Question: What are the prevalence rates and risk factors associated with community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?
Data Sources: Studies were identified by searching MEDLINE (January 1966–February 2002) and abstracts from scientific meetings (1996–2001). Reviews of citations and reference lists were performed to identify additional eligible studies. The search terms included Staphylococcus aureus , infection, colonization, methicillin resistance, community-acquired, community-onset, prevalence, frequency, and risk factors.
Study Selection: The search was limited to English-language investigations identified from the electronic and manual searches. Studies were divided into 2 groups, as follows: group 1, retrospective or prospective studies that reported the prevalence of community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) among hospital patients who were colonized (presence of bacteria without infection) or infected with MRSA; and group 2, studies that reported the prevalence of MRSA colonization in the community. The studies were evaluated independently by 2 authors, and case reports were excluded.
Data Extraction: Data extraction and study quality assessment procedures were not fully explained. The outcome measures for hospital patients were definitions of CA-MRSA used in the study, prevalence of CA-MRSA, sample size, number and type of risk factors assessed, and number of patients with ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The studies were grouped based on type, retrospective or prospective. The pooled prevalence of CA-MRSA was calculated for each group (retrospective or prospective) and was limited to the prevalence among patients with MRSA. The proportion of patients who reported ≥1 health care–associated risk factor was also calculated. The outcome measures among community members were prevalence of MRSA, sample size, number and type of risk factors assessed, number of members with ≥1 risk factor, and MRSA strain type, when available. The studies were grouped based on the population surveyed (surveillance cultures, contacts with MRSA-colonized individuals, or sport team members or day care contacts). The pooled prevalence of MRSA colonization and the proportion of members with ≥1 reported risk factor were calculated for each of the study populations listed above. The proportion of CA-MRSA strains that represented typical nosocomial (infection that develops in the hospital) strains was also determined. Chi-square analysis was performed to compare proportions and to determine heterogeneity among the studies.
Main Results: Specific search criteria identified 104 studies for review, of which 57 met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Thirty-nine studies focused on CA-MRSA among hospital patients who were colonized or infected with MRSA. Of these, 32 groups (27 retrospective, 5 prospective) reported the prevalence of CA-MRSA using clinical specimens. Seven groups identified risk factors of CA-MRSA among patients previously diagnosed with MRSA. Thirteen different definitions of CA-MRSA were used in 31 of these studies, and 8 groups did not report the definitions used. The isolation of MRSA within 48 hours of hospital admission, with or without recent admission to a hospital or long-term care facility, or previous history of MRSA colonization were the most common definitions in the studies.
The risk factors included recent hospitalization (range, 1–24 months before identification of MRSA infection or colonization), recent outpatient visit (usually within 12 months), recent nursing home admission (usually within 12 months), recent antibiotic exposure (range, 1–12 months), chronic illness (eg, end-stage renal disease, diabetes, or malignancy), injection drug use, and close contact with a person who had risk factor(s) for MRSA acquisition. The presence of health care–associated risk factors was examined in 17 of the retrospective studies, and the median number of factors studied was 2 (range, 1–6). Among 4121 patients in these studies, 86.1% were found to have ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. All authors of prospective studies (5) examined health care–associated risk factors, and the median number of factors studied was 4 (range, 2–4). Among the 636 patients, 86.9% had ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. In the 7 studies with 515 patients previously diagnosed with MRSA, 84.7% had ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The most common risk factors assessed in the 17 retrospective studies were recent hospitalization and chronic illness requiring health care visits.
The pooled CA-MRSA prevalence was 30.2% (range, 1.9%– 96%) among 5932 patients from the 27 retrospective studies and 37.3% (range, 18.2%–51.2%) among 636 patients from the 5 prospective studies. Eighteen groups reported the prevalence of MRSA colonization in the community. Ten of these reported MRSA prevalence using surveillance cultures, 4 examined colonization status of household contacts with discharged hospital patients with nosocomial MRSA colonization, and 4 reported colonization status of sports team members or day care contacts of persons colonized with MRSA. In the 10 surveillance studies, the pooled MRSA colonization prevalence was 1.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04%–1.53%; range, 0.2%– 7.4%) among 8350 community members. Nine of these studies were stratified based on culture samples taken before the assessment of risk factors, and among 4825 people, the pooled MRSA colonization prevalence was 2.1%. When examining health care–associated risk factors, the median number of factors studied was 5 (range, 1–10), and 47.5% with MRSA had ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The risk factors included those previously identified. In the remaining surveillance study, the MRSA colonization prevalence was 0.20% among 3525 people without prior health care contact. Compared with subjects in the 9 stratified studies with a health care contact, subjects in this study were 90% less likely to have MRSA (relative risk, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.05–0.21). Cultures for 3898 subjects in 7 of the 10 surveillance studies were obtained at the time of a hospital admission, an outpatient clinic visit, or an emergency department visit, and the pooled prevalence of MRSA colonization was 1.8%. In 3 studies in which cultures were obtained outside of a health care facility (schools, day care centers, homeless shelters, or military bases), the pooled MRSA colonization prevalence among 4452 subjects was reported to be 0.76%. Therefore, subjects in a health care facility were 2.35 times more likely to carry MRSA than were subjects outside of a health care facility (95% CI, 1.56–3.53). In one study examining 94 subjects in a semiclosed community, the prevalence of MRSA colonization was 7.4%. These subjects were 36 times more likely to carry MRSA than were subjects who were not in a semiclosed community (95% CI, 13.7–94.7).
The studies also identified 70 MRSA isolates (pure form of an organism in a microbial culture) from subjects who reported no health care–associated risk factors. Strain typing was performed with 32 isolates, and 29 (91%) isolates were similar to strains identified in hospitals. The colonization status of 191 household contacts of 93 patients with nosocomial MRSA colonization discharged from the hospital was examined in 4 studies. The results demonstrated that 17.8% of the contact subjects were colonized with a strain of MRSA having the same antibiogram (record of the susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics) as the index case (initial individual with the strain). The authors reported that subjects who had household contacts with MRSA-colonized patients were 14 times more likely to be colonized than were community subjects without a known MRSA contact (95% CI, 9.8–20.1). In 4 studies examining 517 sports team members or day care contacts of persons known to be colonized with MRSA, 5.4% demonstrated colonization of MRSA with the same strain as the index case.
Conclusions: Based on the available data, the prevalence of MRSA among community members without health care–associated risk factors was relatively low. However, 85% of hospital patients diagnosed with CA-MRSA and 47.5% of healthy community members colonized with MRSA were found to have ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The risk factors identified were recent hospitalization, outpatient visit, nursing home admission, antibiotic exposure, chronic illness, injection drug use, and close contact with a person with risk factor(s). Most MRSA colonization occurred among community members who had health care–associated risk factors or contact with persons with risk factors. The evidence indicated that control of MRSA in the community may require control of MRSA in the health care setting (hospital, health care office, and nursing home). The absence of a standardized definition for CA-MRSA and questions regarding the actual site of colonization versus acquisition should be considered in the interpretation of these findings.
PMCID: PMC1569547  PMID: 17043704
infectious diseases
19.  Measuring Symptoms in Community-dwelling Older Adults: The Psychometric Properties of a Brief Symptom Screen 
Medical care  2013;51(10):949-955.
With aging, the probability of experiencing multiple chronic conditions is increased, along with symptoms associated with these conditions. Symptoms form a central component of illness burden and distress. To date, most symptom measures have focused on a particular disease population.
We sought to develop and evaluate a simple symptom screen using data obtained from a representative sample of community-dwelling older adults.
Psychometric analyses were conducted on 10 self-reported dichotomous symptom indicators collected during in-person interviews from a sample of 1000 community-dwelling older adults. Symptoms included shortness of breath, feeling tired or fatigued, problems with balance or dizziness, perceived weakness in legs, constipation, daily pain, stiffness, poor appetite, anxiety, and anhedonia.
Over one-third of the sample (37.4%) had 5 or more concurrent symptoms. Stiffness and feeling tired were the most common symptoms. Confirmatory factor analyses were performed on the 10 symptoms for single factor and bifactor (physical and affective) models of symptom reporting. Goodness of fit indices indicated better fit for the bifactor model (χ2df=10=89.6, p<0.001) but the practical significance of the improvement in fit was negligible. Differential item functioning (DIF) analyses showed some differences of relatively high magnitude in location parameters by race; however, because the DIF was in different directions, the impact on the overall measure was most likely lessened.
Among community-dwelling older adults, a large proportion experienced multiple co-occurring symptoms. This Brief Symptom Screen can be used to quickly measure overall symptom load in older adult populations, including those with multiple chronic conditions.
PMCID: PMC4084777  PMID: 23969593
symptom experience; measurement; comorbidity
20.  A Literature Synthesis of Symptom Prevalence and Severity in Persons Receiving Active Cancer Treatment 
Patients with cancer experience acute and chronic symptoms caused by their underlying disease or by the treatment. While numerous studies have examined the impact of various treatments on symptoms experienced by cancer patients, there are inconsistencies regarding the symptoms measured and reported in treatment trials. This article presents a systematic review of the research literature of the prevalence and severity of symptoms in patients undergoing cancer treatment.
A systematic search for studies of persons receiving active cancer treatment was performed with the search terms of “multiple symptoms” and “cancer” for studies involving patients over the age of 18 years and published in English during the years 2001 to 2011. Search outputs were reviewed independently by seven authors, resulting in the synthesis of 21 studies meeting criteria for generation of an Evidence Table reporting symptom prevalence and severity ratings.
Data were extracted from 21 multi-national studies to develop a pooled sample of 4067 cancer patients in whom the prevalence and severity of individual symptoms was reported. In total, the pooled sample across the 21 studies was comprised of 62% female, with a mean age of 58 years (range: 18 to 97 years). A majority (62%) of these studies assessed symptoms in homogeneous samples with respect to tumor site (predominantly breast and lung cancer), while 38% of the included studies utilized samples with mixed diagnoses and treatment regimens. Eighteen instruments and structured interviews were including those measuring single symptoms, multi-symptom inventories, and single symptom items drawn from HRQOL or health status measures. The MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) was the most commonly used instrument in the studies analyzed (n=9 studies; 43%), while the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT-G), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Subscale (HADS-D), Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36 (SF-36), and Symptom Distress Scale (SDS) were each employed in two studies. Forty-seven symptoms were identified across the 21 studies which were then categorized into 17 logical groupings. Symptom prevalence and severity were calculated across the entire cohort and also based upon sample sizes in which the symptoms were measured providing the ability to rank symptoms.
Symptoms are prevalent and severe among patients with cancer. Therefore, any clinical study seeking to evaluate the impact of treatment on patients should consider including measurement of symptoms. This study demonstrates that a discrete set of symptoms is common across cancer types. This set may serve as the basis for defining a “core” set of symptoms to be recommended for elicitation across cancer clinical trials, particularly among patients with advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC4299699  PMID: 23314601
Cancer; symptoms; systematic review
21.  Prevalence trends in respiratory symptoms and asthma in relation to smoking - two cross-sectional studies ten years apart among adults in northern Sweden 
Smoking is considered to be the single most important preventable risk factor for respiratory symptoms. Estimating prevalence of respiratory symptoms is important since they most often precede a diagnosis of an obstructive airway disease, which places a major burden on the society. The aim of this study was to estimate prevalence trends of respiratory symptoms and asthma among Swedish adults, in relation to smoking habits. A further aim was to estimate the proportion of respiratory symptom and asthma prevalence attributable to smoking.
Data from two large-scale cross-sectional surveys among adults performed in northern Sweden in 1996 and 2006 were analysed. Identical methods and the same questionnaire were used in both surveys. The association between smoking, respiratory symptoms and asthma was analysed with multiple logistic regression analyses. Changes in prevalence of respiratory symptoms and asthma from 1996 to 2006 were expressed as odds ratios. Additionally, the population attributable risks of smoking were estimated.
The prevalence of most respiratory symptoms decreased significantly from 1996 to 2006. Longstanding cough decreased from 12.4 to 10.1%, sputum production from 19.0 to 15.0%, chronic productive cough from 7.3 to 6.2%, and recurrent wheeze from 13.4 to 12.0%. Any wheeze and asthmatic wheeze remained unchanged. This parallels to a decrease in smoking from 27.4 to 19.1%. In contrast, physician-diagnosed asthma increased from 9.4 to 11.6%. The patterns were similar after correction for confounders. All respiratory symptoms were highly associated with smoking, and the proportion of respiratory symptoms in the population attributed to smoking (PAR) ranged from 9.8 to 25.5%. In 2006, PAR of smoking was highest for recurrent wheeze (20.6%).
In conclusion, we found that respiratory symptoms, in particular symptoms common in bronchitis, decreased among adults in northern Sweden, parallel to a decrease in smoking from 1996 to 2006. In contrast, the prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma increased during the same time-period. Up to one fourth of the respiratory symptom prevalence in the population was attributable to smoking.
PMCID: PMC3929247  PMID: 24383710
Respiratory symptoms; Asthma; Prevalence; Smoking; Attributable risk; Trends
22.  Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection and associated factors among adults in Southern Brazil: a population-based cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2005;5:118.
Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is associated with several upper gastrointestinal disorders. Local data on the epidemiology of the infection are scarce in Brazil. The purpose of this study is to measure the prevalence rate and to explore the associated factors among the adult population living in Pelotas, a southern Brazilin city.
This was a population-based cross-sectional study. Through a multi-stage sampling method all individuals 20 years and over living at the selected households at the urban area of the city were interviewed regarding past and current socio-economic indicators; demographic characteristics; nutritional and behavioural habits; and history of upper gastrointestinal symptoms.Hp infection was ascertained through the 13C-UBT. Due to the high prevalence, data were analysed through robust Poisson regression. All analyses took into account the family clustering of the data.
Among 563 eligible individuals, 363 agreed to perform the 13C-UBT (refusal rate of 35.5%). Refusals were associated with female sex, consumption of mate drinking, and presence of upper gastrointestinal symptoms. The prevalence rate of H. pylori infection was 63.4% (95%CI 59.3%–69.3%). In crude analyses, prevalence was associated with increasing age, non-white skin colour, lower current family income, lower education level, higher size of the family, low socio-economic conditions in childhood, higher number of siblings and attendance to day-care centres in childhood, and presence of dyspeptic symptoms. In adjusted analysis the level of education of the father was inversely associated with the infection, whereas number of siblings and attendance to day-care centre in childhood were directly associated with it. Non-white skin colour remained significantly associated with increased prevalence even after allowing for past and current socio-economic characteristics, age and sex. Compared to non-symptomatic individuals, those reporting dyspeptic symptoms presented a higher prevalence of the infection even after allowing for current and past socio-economic conditions, ethnicity, age, and sex.
Hp infection is as common among adults in southern Brazil as it is in other developing countries. Socio-economic conditions in childhood besides ethnicity and presence of dyspeptic symptoms were the factors significantly associated with the infection.
PMCID: PMC1308822  PMID: 16283940
23.  Gastric Electrical Stimulation 
Executive Summary
The objective of this analysis was to assess the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of gastric electrical stimulation (GES) for the treatment of chronic, symptomatic refractory gastroparesis and morbid obesity.
Gastroparesis - Epidemiology
Gastroparesis (GP) broadly refers to impaired gastric emptying in the absence of obstruction. Clinically, this can range from the incidental detection of delayed gastric emptying in an asymptomatic person to patients with severe nausea, vomiting and malnutrition. Symptoms of GP are nonspecific and may mimic structural disorders such as ulcer disease, partial gastric or small bowel obstruction, gastric cancer, and pancreaticobiliary disorders.
Gastroparesis may occur in association with diabetes, gastric surgery (consequence of peptic ulcer surgery and vagotomy) or for unknown reasons (idiopathic gastroparesis). Symptoms include early satiety, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and weight loss. The majority of patients with GP are women.
The relationship between upper gastrointestinal symptoms and the rate of gastric emptying is considered to be weak. Some patients with markedly delayed gastric emptying are asymptomatic and sometimes, severe symptoms may remit spontaneously.
Idiopathic GP may represent the most common form of GP. In one tertiary referral retrospective series, the etiologies in 146 GP patients were 36% idiopathic, 29% diabetic, 13% postgastric surgery, 7.5% Parkinson’s disease, 4.8% collagen vascular disorders, 4.1% intestinal pseudoobstruction and 6% miscellaneous causes.
The true prevalence of digestive symptoms in patients with diabetes and the relationship of these symptoms to delayed gastric emptying are unknown. Delayed gastric emptying is present in 27% to 58% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 30% with type 2 diabetes. However, highly variable rates of gastric emptying have been reported in type 1 and 2 diabetes, suggesting that development of GP in patients with diabetes is neither universal nor inevitable. In a review of studies examining gastric emptying in patients with diabetes compared to control patients, investigators noted that in many cases the magnitude of the delay in gastric emptying is modest.
GP may occur as a complication of a number of different surgical procedures. For example, vagal nerve injury may occur in 4% to 40% of patients who undergo laparoscopic fundoplication1 for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The prevalence of severe, refractory GP is scantily reported in the literature. Using data from a past study, it has been estimated that the prevalence of severe, symptomatic and refractory GP in the United States population is 0.017%. Assuming an Ontario population of 13 million, this would correspond to approximately 2,000 people in Ontario having severe, symptomatic, refractory GP.
The incidence of severe refractory GP estimated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is approximately 4,000 per year in the United States. This corresponds to about 150 patients in Ontario. Using expert opinion and FDA data, the incidence of severe refractory GP in Ontario is estimated to be about 20 to 150 per year.
Treatment for Gastroparesis
To date, there have been no long-term studies confirming the beneficial effects of maintaining euglycemia on GP symptoms. However, it has been suggested that consistent findings of physiologic studies in healthy volunteers and diabetes patients provides an argument to strive for near-normal blood glucose levels in affected diabetes patients.
Dietary measures (e.g., low fibre, low fat food), prokinetic drugs (e.g., domperidone, metoclopramide and erythromycin) and antiemetic or antinausea drugs (e.g, phenothiazines, diphenhydramine) are generally effective for symptomatic relief in the majority of patients with GP.
For patients with chronic, symptomatic GP who are refractory to drug treatment, surgical options may include jejunostomy tube for feeding, gastrotomy tube for stomach decompression and pyloroplasty for gastric emptying.
Few small studies examined the use of botulinum toxin injections into the pyloric sphincter. However, the contribution of excessive pyloric contraction to GP has been insufficiently defined and there have been no controlled studies of this therapy.
Treatment with GES is reversible and may be a less invasive option compared to stomach surgery for the treatment of patients with chronic, drug-refractory nausea and vomiting secondary to GP. In theory, GES represents an intermediate step between treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology, and the treatment of symptoms. It is based on studies of gastric electrical patterns in GP that have identified the presence of a variety of gastric arrhythmias. Similar to a cardiac pacemaker, it was hypothesized that GES could override the abnormal rhythms, stimulate gastric emptying and eliminate symptoms.
Morbid Obesity Epidemiology
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of at last 30 kg/m2. Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of at least 40 kg/m2 or at least 35 kg/m2 with comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemias, obstructive sleep apnea, weight-related arthropathies, and stress urinary incontinence.
In the United States, the age-adjusted prevalence of extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) for adults aged 20 years and older has increased significantly in the population, from 2.9% (1988–1994) to 4.7% (1999–2000). An expert estimated that about 160,000 to 180,000 people are morbidly obese in Ontario.
Treatment for Morbid Obesity
Diet, exercise, and behavioural therapy are used to help people lose weight.
Bariatric surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management.
Gastric stimulation has been investigated for the treatment of morbid obesity; the intention being to reduce appetite and induce early satiety possibly due to inhibitory effects on gastric motility and effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and hormones related to satiety and/or appetite.
Possible advantages to GES for the treatment of morbid obesity include reversibility of the procedure, less invasiveness than some bariatric procedures, e.g., gastric bypass, and less side effects (e.g., dumping syndrome).
The Device
Electrical stimulation is delivered via an implanted system that consists of a neurostimulator and 2 leads. The surgical procedure can be performed via either an open or laparoscopic approach. An external programmer used by the physician can deliver instructions to the GES, i.e., adjust the rate and amplitude of stimulation (Figure 1). GES may be turned off by the physician at any time or may be removed. The battery life is approximately 4-5 years
For treatment of GP, the GES leads are secured in the muscle of the lower stomach, 10 cm proximal to the pylorus (the opening from the stomach to the intestine), 1 cm apart and connected to an implantable battery-powered neurostimulator which is placed in a small pocket in the abdominal wall
For treatment of morbid obesity, GES leads are implanted along the lesser curvature of the stomach where the vagal nerve branches spread, approximately 8 cm proximal to the pylorus. However, the implant positioning of the leads has been variably reported in the literature.
Regulatory Status
The Enterra Therapy System and the Transcend II Implantable Gastric Stimulation System (Medtronic Inc.) are both licensed as class 3 devices by Health Canada (license numbers 60264 and 66948 respectively). The Health Canada indications for use are:
Enterra Therapy System
“For use in the treatment of chronic intractable (drug-refractory) nausea and vomiting.”
Transcend II Implantable Gastric Stimulation System
“For use in weight reduction for obese adults with a body mass index greater than 35.”
The GES device that is licensed by Health Canada for treatment of GP, produces high-frequency GES. Most clinical studies examining GES for GP have used high-frequency (4 times the intrinsic slow wave frequency, i.e., 12 cycles per minute), low energy, short duration pulses. This type of stimulation does not alter gastric muscular contraction and has no effect on slow wave dysrhythmias. The mechanism of action is unclear but it is hypothesized that high-frequency GES may act on sensory fibers directed to the CNS.
The GES device licensed by Health Canada for treatment of morbid obesity produces low-frequency GES, which is close to or just above the normal/native gastric slow wave cycle (approximately 3 cycles/min.). This pacing uses low-frequency, high-energy, long-duration pulses to induce propagated slow waves that replace the spontaneous ones. Low-frequency pacing does not invoke muscular contractions.
Most studies examining the use of GES for the treatment of morbid obesity use low-frequency GES. Under normal circumstances, the gastric slow wave propagates distally and determines the frequency and propagation direction of gastric peristalsis. Low-frequency GES aims to produce abnormal gastric slow waves that can induce gastric dysrhythmia, disrupt regular propagation of slow waves, cause hypomotility of the stomach, delay gastric emptying, reduce food intake, prolong satiety, and produce weight loss.
In the United States, the Enterra Therapy System is a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD), meaning it is a medical device designated by the FDA for use in the treatment of medical conditions that affect fewer than 4,000 individuals per year.2 The Enterra Therapy System is indicated for “the treatment of chronic, drug- refractory nausea and vomiting secondary to GP of diabetes or idiopathic etiology” (not postsurgical etiologies).
GES for morbid obesity has not been approved by the FDA and is for investigational use only in the United States.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat systematically reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of GES to treat patients who have: a) chronic refractory symptomatic GP; or b) morbid obesity.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used its standard search strategy to retrieve international health technology assessments and English-language journal articles from selected databases.
The GRADE approach was used to systematically and explicitly make judgments about the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence in Tables 1 and 2.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Gastroparesis
Confounders related to diabetes.
Possible Type 2 error for subgroup analyses.
Subjective self-reported end point.
Posthoc change in primary end point analysis.
No sample size justification.
Concomitant prokinetic/antiemetic therapy.
Only 1 RCT (with different results for FDA and publication).
GES originally hypothesized to correct gastric rhythms, stimulate gastric emptying and therefore eliminate symptoms.
Now hypothesized to directly act on neurons to the CNS to control symptoms.
Weak correlation between symptoms and gastric emptying.
Unclear whether gastric emptying is still considered an end point to investigate.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Morbid Obesity
No sample size calculation.
Small sample size.
No ITT analysis.
Lack of detail regarding dropouts.
Possible Type 2 error.
Sparse details about randomization/blinding.
Full, final results not published.
Only 1 RCT (technically grey literature).
Economic Analysis
No formal economic analysis was identified in the literature search.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research reported that the cost of implanting a GES in the United States for the treatment of GP is estimated to be $30,000 US. In Canada, the device costs approximately $10,700 Cdn; this does not include costs associated with the physician’s training, the implantation procedure, or device programming and maintenance.
Ontario Context
There is no Schedule of Benefits code for GES.
There is no Canadian Classification of Health Interventions Index (CCI) procedure code for GES.
Since the ICD-10 diagnosis code for gastroparesis falls under K31.8 “Other specified diseases of the stomach and duodenum”, it is impossible to determine how many patients in Ontario had discharge abstracts because of gastroparesis.
In 2005, there were less than 5 out-of-country requests for GES (for either consultation only or for surgery).
The prevalence of severe, refractory GP is variably reported in the literature.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research estimated that the prevalence of severe, symptomatic and medically refractory GP in the United States population was 0.017%. Assuming a total Ontario population of 13 million, this would correspond to a budget impact of approximately $23.6 M
Cdn ($10,700 Cdn x 2,210 patients) for the device cost alone.
The incidence of severe refractory GP estimated by the FDA is approximately 4,000 per year in the United States. This corresponds to about 150 patients in Ontario. Using expert opinion and FDA data, the incidence of severe refractory GP in Ontario is estimated to be about 20 to 150 per year. This corresponds to a budget impact of approximately $107,000 Cdn to $1.6M Cdn per year for the device cost alone.
Morbid Obesity
An expert in the field estimated that there are 160,000 to 180,000 people in Ontario who are morbidly obese. This would correspond to a budget impact of approximately $1.7B Cdn to $1.9B Cdn for the device cost alone (assuming 100% uptake). However, the true uptake of GES for morbid obesity is unknown in relation to other types of bariatric surgery (which are more effective).
As per the GRADE Working Group, overall recommendations consider 4 main factors.
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates and the relative value placed on the outcome.
The quality of the evidence.
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise.
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of healthcare alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 shows the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For GP, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality, consistency and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $107,000 Cdn to $1.6M Cdn for the device cost alone, while the cost-effectiveness of GES is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high-quality studies of effectiveness. Further evidence of effectiveness should be available in the future since there is a RCT underway that is examining the use of GES in patients with severe refractory GP associated with diabetes and idiopathic etiologies ( identifier NCT00157755).
For morbid obesity, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and consistency), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $1.7B Cdn to $1.9B Cdn for the device cost alone (assuming 100% uptake) while the cost-effectiveness of GES is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. However, the true uptake of GES for morbid obesity is unknown in relation to other types of bariatric surgery (which are more effective).
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation (Including Uncertainty)
PMCID: PMC3413096  PMID: 23074486
24.  Chronic persistent cough in the community: a questionnaire survey 
Chronic cough is a common symptom which causes significant levels of morbidity. It is becoming increasingly well characterised by research taking place in specialist cough clinics, where successful treatment rates are high. However, there is a paucity of data regarding the symptom complex of chronic cough in the community. This report details the results of a postal questionnaire survey sent to individuals requesting further information on chronic cough.
856 chronic cough questionnaires were sent out to members of the public who requested an information sheet following a national UK radio broadcast. Information regarding demography, history of cough, previous treatment and physical, psychological and social effects of the cough was elicited.
373 completed questionnaires were returned. Mean age was 65.3 years (SD 12.0, range 9–88 years). 73% were female and 2% current smokers. Median duration of cough was 6.5 years. 66% had no other coexisting respiratory diagnosis, whilst 24% reported asthma. Of those who responded, 91% had consulted a general practitioner regarding the cough and of them, 85% had been prescribed some sort of treatment. 61% had seen at least one hospital specialist. Commonly reported associated physical symptoms included breathlessness (55%), wheeze (37%), fatigue (72%) and disturbed sleep (70%). Incontinence occurred in 55% of women. Similarly, the majority reported psychological effects such as anger or frustration (83%), anxiety (69%) and depression (55%). 64% felt that the cough interfered with their social life.
Chronic cough causes a high level of morbidity in the community, which results in a correspondingly high rate of healthcare utilisation. Demography and symptomatology seems to be similar to that reported from specialist centres, but successful treatment of the cough was uncommon, despite a high number of medical consultations in both primary and secondary care. If understanding of this debilitating but eminently treatable condition is enhanced, management of chronic cough will improve and many patients will be helped.
PMCID: PMC1847685  PMID: 17381836
25.  Symptom Experience in HIV-Infected Adults: A Function of Demographic and Clinical Characteristics 
Personal characteristics that interact with both HIV diagnosis and its medical management can influence symptom experience. Little is known about how symptoms in chronic illness populations vary by age, sex, or socioeconomic factors. As part of an ongoing prospective longitudinal study, this study describes symptoms experienced by 317 men and women living with HIV/AIDS. Participants were recruited at HIV clinics and community sites in the San Francisco Bay area. Measures included their most recent CD4 cell count and viral load from the medical record, demographic and treatment variables, and the 32-item Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale to estimate prevalence, severity, and distress of each symptom as well as global symptom burden. The median number of symptoms was nine, and symptoms experienced by over half the sample included lack of energy (65%), feeling drowsy (57%), difficulty sleeping (56%), and pain (55%). Global symptom burden was unrelated to age or CD4 cell count. Those with an AIDS diagnosis had significantly higher symptom burden scores, as did those currently receiving anti-retroviral (ART) therapy. African Americans reported fewer symptoms than Caucasians or Mixed/Other race and women reported more symptom burden after controlling for AIDS diagnosis and race. Since high symptom burden is more likely to precipitate self-care strategies that may potentially be ineffective, strategies for symptom management would be better guided by tailored interventions from health care providers.
PMCID: PMC2794949  PMID: 19811886
HIV; gender; sex; transgender; ethnicity; race; symptoms; sleep; fatigue; pain

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