Many people believe electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes or vapes) are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. But with a new report from the U.S. surgeon general calling e-cigarette use “a major public health concern,” this may not be the case. The FDA reports an alarming 900% rise in e-cigarette use among high school students from 2011 to 2015. Get the facts on this popular, and potentially dangerous, product.
How do they work?
You don’t actually “light-up an e-cig”. They’re powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. Instead of burning tobacco, the “e-liquid” is vaporized in a heating chamber when the user inhales.
The replaceable liquid cartridge contains nicotine mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), along with flavorings and chemicals. The tip often contains LED lights that simulate the glow of a burning cigarette.
E-cigarettes are available in flavors like cherry, bubble gum, and cotton candy, and can be advertised on TV, which may increase their appeal for children and teens.
Are they safe?
Proponents of e-cigarettes claim they’re safer than smoking because they don’t contain the more than 60 cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke. But e-cigs still deliver harmful chemicals, including nicotine, the extremely addictive substance in cigarettes. And studies show that brands claiming to be “nicotine-free” may still have trace amounts. Developing teenage brains are especially sensitive to nicotine's addictive properties.
Is your smoking cessation program in place at your practice? See how MD Spiro can help!
See what e-cigs do to your body:
As we have found with the recent deaths in Australia in the news from “thunderstorm asthma” it is important to remember that storms can trigger your patient’s asthma and allergies that could, in severe situations, kill a patient.
Asthma and thunderstorms
Thunderstorm asthma is a potentially dangerous mix of pollens, weather conditions and rain that can trigger severe asthma symptoms. People residing in metropolitan, regional and rural areas can be affected.
How does a thunderstorm cause asthma symptoms?
Thunderstorms cause a rapid increase in the number of triggers in the air such as pollens, mold and dust and changes in humidity and temperature. Breathing this air in can irritate the lining of the airway causing swelling and extra mucus to be produced. This causes the airway to narrow and triggers an asthma flare-up. These flare-ups may become severe very quickly.
Do you have to be allergic to pollens or grasses to experience thunderstorm asthma?
Thunderstorm asthma can affect anyone. In fact, during very severe storms, some people who have never been diagnosed with asthma may experience breathing difficulties.
If you have asthma, be alert to the potential dangers of thunderstorm asthma.
What do you do if a thunderstorm is in the forecast?
Always carry your emergency inhaler
Know the signs of worsening asthma and the asthma first aid steps
Cigarette smokers who are HIV positive appear to have a higher chance of dying from smoking-related complications than from HIV, according to research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Numerous health problems are associated with smoking. Smokers have a high chance of developing heart disease, cancer, serious lung diseases, and other infections, such as pneumonia.
Previous research has suggested that each cigarette shortens a person's lifespan by 11 minutes, and that smoking from the age of 17-71 years will decrease life expectancy by an average of 6 ½ years.
HIV is a serious health condition. Untreated, it can lead to AIDS, which is fatal. Once a person has HIV, it will never leave their body. HIV affects the body's immune system, so that it can no longer fight off infections.
In 2014, around 44,073 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States.
More than 40 percent of people with HIV are smokers, compared with 15 percent for the general population in the U.S. The number of people with HIV who smoke in the U.S. is estimated to be around 247,586. Another 20 percent of people with HIV are former smokers.
HIV patients are more prone to the ill effects of tobacco
Current HIV treatments offer effective protection against the virus, so that people with the virus are living for longer, but people who have HIV remain especially susceptible to the risks of smoking.
Compared with other smokers, they are more likely to experience:
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, projected the effects of smoking and HIV on life expectancy.
Patients may lose up to 6.7 years
Using a computer simulation of HIV disease and treatment, the authors calculated the life expectancy of people with HIV, based on whether or not they smoked.
Fast facts about HIV and AIDS:
In the U.S., it is common for people with HIV to abandon their drug treatment and care regimen. The current study factored this into the projections, making the results particularly relevant for U.S. patients and health providers.
You want a trip to Philip Morris International to feel like a visit to Marlboro Country. But the company's Swiss research center, aka the Cube, just won't play along. Perched above crystalline Lake Neuchatel, southwest of Zurich, the glass hexahedron holds secrets to a future when, Philip Morris says, the world will be blissfully smoke-free. That's right: Philip Morris, of all companies, is telling smokers to quit. Here, beyond the sun-dappled reflecting pool, scientists in lab coats are searching for Big Tobacco's magic bullet: cigarette substitutes that will sell — but won't kill.
The push gained new urgency with news that British American Tobacco was offering $47bn to buy out Reynolds American, a move that would topple Philip Morris as the world's largest publicly traded tobacco company. The stakes could scarcely be higher. Tobacco claims more than six million lives every year. With smoking on the decline around the world, tobacco giants are racing to find new, supposedly safer products to feed nicotine addiction, even as they lean on old-fashioned cigarettes to sustain their profits.
Can Big Tobacco really kick cigarettes? More to the point, can it afford to?
"We can't stop cold turkey," says Andre Calantzopoulos, the chief executive officer of Philip Morris International. A crucial test could come next year when his next big hope — an iPhone-esque contraption that heats tobacco inside a cigarillo-size tube — potentially hits the US. Quitting old-fashioned smokes won't be easy for tobacco companies or their stakeholders. Philip Morris turned out 850 billion cigarettes last year, generating net revenue of about $74bn. All that tobacco pays off handsomely for global investors: counting dividends, the company's stock has returned roughly 70 per cent over the past five years.
For Calantzopoulos, an electrical engineer by training and reformed smoker who's spent his career at Philip Morris, the challenge will be to come up with new moneymakers as society radically redefines the way it uses tobacco. That, while BAT is grabbing the rest of Reynolds to help power its own push into so-called next generation products. Critics are skeptical. They say Big Tobacco is simply doing what it's always done: selling addictive products, with a gloss of feel-good marketing, while keeping tobacco at the heart of a $770bn global industry.
"Philip Morris has demonstrated time and time again in the past its introduction of new products has led to more...Read more..
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to study the impact of diagnostic error on outcomes for pulmonary patients and the use of lung-function testing in primary care.
More than 30 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and many receive daily treatment. However, studies suggest 30 to 50 percent of these patients may have an incorrect diagnosis.
Spirometry is the nationally and internationally recommended test for diagnosing asthma and COPD and who better to partner on spirometry with then MD Spiro.
"Despite the clinical guidelines supporting the use of spirometry to identify asthma and COPD, many patients do not receive the test prior to receiving a diagnosis," says Dr. Min Joo, principal investigator on the grant and associate professor of medicine in the UIC College of Medicine.
Spirometry tests lung function by measuring how much and how fast a patient can move air out of the lungs. The patients take a big breath and exhales as hard and long as possible into a machine.
Joo says that without a spirometry test, patients are at risk for worse sickness and even death, as well as unnecessary medical costs that disproportionately affect African Americans and underserved minority populations.
"A shocking number of patients are misdiagnosed and face a two-fold danger," she said.
"First, they are taking medication for a condition they may not have, creating unnecessary exposure to the side effects and complications of those medications, such as pneumonia from using inhaled corticosteroids. Second, their real conditions are left unidentified and untreated. This may be particularly true for minority and underserved populations who are known to have multi-morbidities and therefore have a number of potential causes for shortness of breath and other breathing-related issues," Joo said.
One study found that up to 65 percent of COPD patients seen in a federally qualified health center turned out not to have COPD when spirometry was later performed.
"In the past, attempts to increase the use of spirometry in a primary care setting have had limited long term success, and a new approach is needed to reduce diagnostic error and better understand its impact on patient safety and outcomes," Joo said. "Our study will test an approach...Read more..
Introducing the New Freedom From Smoking® Plus from the American Lung Association
About 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit and 40 percent will make a quit attempt this year.
In order to continually provide the most comprehensive and effective smoking cessation program in the country, the American Lung Association unveiled its newest addition to the Freedom From Smoking® program: an interactive, online quit-smoking experience for the 19.4 million tobacco users who make a quit attempt every year.
Coupled with the Freedom program and our smoking cessation product the SmokeCheck Breath CO Monitor, you can help empower your patients to “Be a Hero” for themselves and their family.
Freedom From Smoking® Plus will help smokers quit for good through a new highly engaging platform that includes activities, videos, quizzes and more. Over the course of nine sessions, users create a personalized quit plan, learn about medications to help them quit, get through the rough patches and transition to a smoke-free lifestyle. In addition, individuals using the program can lean on the support network of the American Lung Association that includes:
See FreedomFromSmoking.org in action on your desktop, tablet or smartphone and share this new tool with friends and loved ones that want to quit smoking.
For over 35 years, our Freedom From Smoking® program has helped hundreds of thousands of people break their addiction to tobacco through our group clinic and through our self-help guide. Thanks to our efforts and those of our partner organizations, there are now more former smokers than current smokers in the United States. With the addition of Freedom From Smoking® Plus, the American Lung Association is poised to help even more people be smoke-free for good.
To celebrate the successes of people that have found smoke-free freedom, we are sharing personal stories from former smokers. Through the EACH Breath blog, ten individuals will share how they were able to break their addiction to tobacco and encourage smokers to give quitting a try.Read more..
Fewer Americans are dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but not black women and the middle-aged, a new government report shows.
Between 2000 and 2014, there was a 12 percent overall drop in deaths from the progressive lung disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Report co-author Hanyu Ni said the figures aren't unexpected, noting that "the declines in the COPD-related mortality are consistent with declines in the prevalence of current smoking for men and women in the United States."
But, Ni added, the study only quantified death rate trends, and didn't look at the reasons behind those trends. Ni is an associate director for science with the CDC's division of vital statistics at the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.
Dr. David Mannino, who's with the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health, agreed that the study "results are not surprising." He, too, cited the nationwide decline in smoking, the No. 1 cause of COPD.
"Smoking is the biggest factor driving COPD deaths in the U.S.," said Mannino, a professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive disease of the airways that makes it difficult to breathe. COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It's the third-biggest killer in the United States, and most people with COPD are current or past smokers, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
For the study, Ni's team reviewed data collected by the National Vital Statistics System between 2000 and 2014.
The report painted a mixed picture of risk.
For example, while men saw their COPD fatality rate drop by nearly 23 percent, women saw their rate fall by just 4 percent.
Age also played a role. Men between the ages of 65 and 84 saw their death rate drop by nearly 30 percent, while those 85 and older saw their rate dip by 23 percent. But for men between 45 and 64, the death rate rose by nearly 13 percent.
Similarly, women between 65 and 84 saw their death rate drop by 16 percent. But those between 45 and 64 saw a rise of 24 percent, while the death rate among those 85 and older increased more than 6 percent.
When the numbers were broken down by race, white women saw little change during the study period, while black women saw their death rate rise by 4 percent. Conversely, white men experienced a drop of 21 percent, while black men saw...Read more..
Children with a history of food allergy have a high risk of developing asthma and allergic rhinitis during childhood as well. The risk increases with the number of food allergies a child might have, say researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in a new study recently published in BMC Pediatrics.
"Eczema, asthma and allergic rhinitis are among the most common childhood medical conditions in the U.S.," said lead researcher David A. Hill, MD, PhD, an allergy and immunology fellow with an interest in food allergy. "Disease rates for these conditions seem to be changing, prompting a need for more information and surveillance." Compared with previous reports, this study found higher rates of asthma and lower rates of eczema, a skin inflammation.
In Philadelphia, asthma rates are among the highest in the nation, affecting one in five children. In this study, the researchers found an asthma prevalence rate of 21.8 percent.
The study is a retrospective analysis of the electronic health records of more than one million urban and suburban children in the CHOP Care Network from 2001 to 2015. The researchers divided the records into two cohorts: a closed-birth cohort of 29,662 children, followed continuously for their first five years of life, and a cross-sectional cohort of 333,200 children and adolescents, followed for at least 12 months. The patients were 48 percent white and 40 percent black.
While prior studies have suggested patients with food allergies are at increased risk of developing asthma, those analyses were small and limited. This study is the largest to date to examine the characteristics of healthcare provider-diagnosed eczema, asthma, allergic rhinitis and food allergy in a pediatric primary care population.
In the closed-birth cohort, the incidence of at least one food allergy between birth and age five was 8 percent, with the peak age of diagnosis between 12 and 17 months of age. The overall prevalence of at least one food allergy for the large cross-sectional cohort was 6.7 percent, in line with previously published rates. However, allergies to specific foods diverged from previous patterns. Allergies to peanut, milk, shellfish and soy were proportionately higher in the study population, while wheat allergy was proportionately rarer, and sesame allergy was higher than previously appreciated.
The researchers said that further studies should examine whether the food allergy patterns they found are comparable...Read more..