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Long-Term Survival can be Predicted by a Simple Lung Test

Researchers have found a simple pulmonary test can predict overall long-term survival rates in both men and women. Their findings are presented in the September issue of Chest.

Researchers studied survival rates based on a lung function test, called forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1).They performed the lung function test on a group of more than 550 men and more than 640 women who varied in age from 20 to 89 years at enrollment. They have been participating in the Buffalo Health Study from 1960 to 1962. Last year, after Twenty-nine, researchers gathered data to determine whether or not participants were still living and if not, they examined medical records to determine the cause of death. During the follow-up period, nearly 55 percent of the men and more than 43 percent of the women in the study died.

Researchers found cardiovascular disease was the predominant cause for the deaths of both men and women. Ishcemic heart disease was the cause of death for 39 percent of males and nearly 30 percent of females. Men who scored the lowest on the FEV1 test at the beginning of the study had a risk ratio for death from ischemic heart disease at more than two to one compared to those who scored better on the lung function test. It neared that same ratio for women.

The study results were adjusted for risk factors for heart disease. Holger J. SchUnemann, M.D., from the State University of New York at Buffalo, says, "It is not clear in this study whether the observed association reflects a cause-effect relationship with mortality. However, the lung is a primary defense organ against environmental toxins, and impaired pulmonary function could lead to decreased tolerance against these environmental toxins."

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