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News Briefs from Preventive Medicine 2008

AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A new take on pilots' health, workplace injuries connected to chronic illness, and ignorance about antibiotics are among studies to be presented at Preventive Medicine 2008, the American College of Preventive Medicine's Annual Meeting February 20-23, 2008 in Austin, Texas.

Long-Haul Flights May be Hazardous to Pilots' Health

This study investigated if acute stress phenomena associated with frequent take offs and landings of pilots flying short-haul carriers (less than four hours flying) would have a greater impact on their instances of cardiovascular disease compared to those of pilots flying long-haul flights (longer than eight hours continuous flying). Researchers studied pilots from two commercial airline carriers for cardiovascular disease using a web-based algorithm that assesses the extent and severity of the following risk factors:
-- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build-up)

-- Plaque formation

-- Plaque vulnerability

In the short-flight carrier, 178 pilots with an average age of 42 were compared to a long-haul carrier with an average age of 47. Long-range carrier pilots showed significantly more atherosclerotic disease as compared to those who flew for the short-range carrier. Jacques Barth, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study concluded, "A more extensive assessment of cardiovascular disease should be conducted on all pilots and portable low-cost evaluations using ultrasound should be considered."

(Continuous Long-Haul Flights in Pilots may be Deleterious to Cardiovascular Health; Abstract 186784)

Workplace Injuries Linked to Chronic Health Conditions

Researchers conducted a one-year case controlled study of workers at the Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, TN, to find out if chronic health conditions were a contributing factor to workplace injury. Cases of all employees who incurred injuries at work during the period were reviewed and control subjects were randomly selected from employees who completed a health surveillance exam during the study period and had no record of work place injuries for the preceding year.

Higher rates of chronic health conditions and risk factors were identified among employees who reported workplace injuries. Of the 151 cases, men 50 years and older and women between the ages of 40 to 49 incurred the highest injury rates. Injured employees between the ages of 40 and 49 showed higher instances of metabolic syndrome than the control group. A difference in depression and migraine diagnoses was also found among these employees. Additionally, the employees in the group who sustained injuries had higher blood pressure measures and a significant number of cases reported headache symptoms, with 35 percent reporting substantial and severe headaches.

Ibrahim Heiba, M.D., Health Officer for Eastman Chemical concluded, "The study identified higher rates of chronic health conditions and risk factors among individuals reporting injuries ... Addressing the health and emphasizing the wellness of the work population should lead to a healthier, more productive work force and a decrease in accident rates."

(Chronic Health Conditions and Work Place Injuries: Eastman Chemical Company; AB 185044)

Survey Shows Patients Don't Know Enough about Antibiotics

Researchers conducted a telephone survey of 919 adults who had taken antibiotics in the last 12 months to gain a better understanding of patient practices, experiences and beliefs concerning antibiotics. The survey results show that many patients have low knowledge regarding antibiotics: 45 percent of respondents reported a belief that antibiotics can treat viruses, and eight percent stated that they preferred antibiotic treatment for early-stage colds. These behaviors were greatly reduced by having knowledge about antibiotic resistance.

Researchers also found that expectations of respondents for antibiotics were affected by diagnosis terminology. When less threatening terms, such as "mild" ear infection rather than ear infection were used, the reported expectations for antibiotics reduced as much as 421 percent. Stephanie Boyd, lead researcher, concluded: "By understanding and addressing potential gaps in patient knowledge [about antibiotics] and communicating diagnosis in ways that patients find less threatening, clinicians can more effectively negotiate encounters in which patients exert pressure to prescribe."

(Patient Behaviors and Beliefs Regarding Antibiotic Use; AB 186798)

About Preventive Medicine 2008

Preventive Medicine 2008, the annual meeting of the American College of Preventive Medicine, will be held February 20-23, 2008 at the Hilton Austin in Austin, TX. Nearly 1,000 preventive medicine practitioners are expected to gather for exclusive updates on the latest advances in disease prevention and health promotion. For more information please visit

About the American College of Preventive Medicine

The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) is the national professional society for physicians committed to disease prevention and health promotion. Its mission is to serve as the leader for the specialty of preventive medicine, which encompasses general preventive medicine, public health, occupational and environmental medicine and aerospace medicine. ACPM seeks to improve population health status through evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion research, policies, practice & programs.

SOURCE American College of Preventive Medicine
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