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Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Teaser: 

Neil Fam, BSc, MSc

Pneumonia is a common and serious condition that claims over 6,000 lives in Canada annually. The elderly are particularly at risk, with individuals over 65 accounting for 50% of all pneumonia cases and 90% of deaths due to lower respiratory tract infection.1 Indeed, elderly patients with pneumonia have a mortality rate 3-5 times that of young adults. A combination of factors contribute to the increased incidence of pneumonia in the elderly, including the presence of comorbid illness and the effects of aging on the lungs and immune system (see Age-related Changes to the Respiratory System Will Not Affect Healthy Elderly). Recent advances in our understanding of pneumonia have led to a re-evaluation of traditional approaches to the disease. This review outlines disease presentation, common pathogens and current diagnostic, treatment and preventive options in the care of elderly patients with pneumonia.

Treatment of Heart Disease in the Elderly: Prescribing Practices Show Under-use of Medications

Treatment of Heart Disease in the Elderly: Prescribing Practices Show Under-use of Medications

Teaser: 

Lilia Malkin, BSc

Heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the geriatric population. According to Health Canada, myocardial infarction (MI) and ischemic heart disease (IHD) accounted for over one-third of deaths in men and women aged 65 and older in 1995, once again firmly establishing coronary artery disease (CAD) as the leading cause of mortality in Canada. In Ontario, 23 percent of patients die within one year of experiencing MI and one-third of congestive heart failure (CHF) patients succumb within one year of being hospitalized for CHF. Importantly, as Dr. David Naylor, co-editor of the 1999 Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Cardiovascular Atlas points out, the Canadian demographic profile is shifting toward a larger geriatric population, potentially greatly increasing the number of Canadians vulnerable to heart disease. Therefore, it is imperative that both primary and secondary prevention methods be used as extensively as possible to reduce the morbidity and mortality due to CAD.

Risedronate and Etidronate both effective for treating corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis

Risedronate and Etidronate both effective for treating corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis

Teaser: 

A 12 month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, multicentre study by Jencen and colleagues demonstrated that 5 mg/day of risedronate (Actonel) given for twelve months was effective in significantly increasing bone mineral density and lowering the risk of vertebral fractures, for patients on chronic corticosteroid therapy. From the abstract it is unclear if these fractures were clinically symptomatic, radiologically detected, or both. Risedronate prevents bone loss by inhibiting bone resorption. It represents a new type of biphosphonate which is hoped to have less gastrointestinal complications than other bisphosphonates, however, residronate is not available in Canada at this time.

Adachi and colleagues pooled results from two similarly designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials examining the effectiveness of Etidronate (Didrocal) (which is available in Canada). Intermittent cyclical therapy with etidronate in patients recently starting corticosteroids proved to be effective in preventing bone loss in men, pre- and post-menopausal women. This data supports previously published studies employing a bisphosphonate to decrease the loss of bone mineral density with chronic systemic corticosteroid use.

Abstracts are available at http://ex2.excerptamedica.com/98ac

Managing Orthostatic Hypotension: Treatment Should Focus on Cause

Managing Orthostatic Hypotension: Treatment Should Focus on Cause

Teaser: 

Margaret Grant, MD,
Geriatric Medicine Resident, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Definition and Prevalence

In response to the confusion surrounding the existence of multiple definitions of orthostatic hypertension (OH), a consensus statement was developed to standardize the meaning of this medical condition. OH is defined as a reduction of systolic blood pressure (BP) of at least 20 mm Hg, or a reduction of diastolic BP of at least 10 mm Hg within 3 minutes of standing or lying on a tilt table at an angle of at least 60 degrees.1 The prevalence of OH in the elderly ranges from 5 to 33 %.2-4 This variability may be the result of different definitions used and the range of populations considered, from frail older nursing home patients to healthy older people living in the community. The prevalence of OH can be as high as 50% in frail older nursing home patients.2

In a study by Ooi et al., which looked at nursing home patients' BP taken at 8 different times, OH was found to be variable depending on the time of day, with a higher prevalence just before breakfast.

Despite Controversial Diagnosis, Patients With Late Onset Schizophrenia Still Require Treatment

Despite Controversial Diagnosis, Patients With Late Onset Schizophrenia Still Require Treatment

Teaser: 

Thomas Tsirakis, BA

Late Onset Schizophrenia (LOS) is a rare disorder with a prevalence rate of less than 1 percent within the general population. LOS applies to those individuals who develop schizophrenia after the age of 40. The existence of LOS as a disorder separate from schizophrenia has been wrought with controversy, due mostly to a lack of consensus between European and North American medical standards. The general lack of agreement between the world's medical communities, as well as the overlapping of clinical features between LOS and other psychiatric disorders, has often resulted in misdiagnosis and confusion. In North America, LOS was completely eliminated from the third revised edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IIIR) of the American Psychiatric Association after the release of DSM-IV in 1994, and is now classified utilizing the same criteria as schizophrenia. The European medical community, however, still considers it to be a separate, yet related entity, with its own distinct symptomatology, and continues to define it utilizing DSM-IIIR criteria.

Congestive Heart Failure--Early Diagnosis Improves Treatment Success

Congestive Heart Failure--Early Diagnosis Improves Treatment Success

Teaser: 

Michele Kohli, BSc

Congestive heart failure (CHF), a clinical syndrome caused by failure of the left or right ventricle, is a leading cause of chronic illness in older persons. In the United States, CHF is the most common cause of hospitalization among those aged 65 years and above. Each year, approximately 400,000 Americans are diagnosed with CHF. Few statistics regarding CHF in Canada have been compiled, but the Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates that 200,000 to 300,000 Canadians have the syndrome. The incidence of CHF appears to be increasing in both Canada and the United States.

An individual's risk of developing CHF increases exponentially as a person ages (See Figure 1), due to age-related changes in the heart structure and function. Physiological and pathological alterations affecting heart rate, preload, afterload and contractile states of the heart reduce cardiac output (See More Fat, Less Specialized Cells in Old Heart). Concurrent changes in the kidney, respiratory and nervous systems may further impair the function of the heart. Congestive heart failure is a syndrome with multiple etiologies.

Early diagnosis of CHF greatly improves the success of treatment.