Patterns of Growth and Decline in Lung Function in Persistent Childhood Asthma

BACKGROUND

Tracking longitudinal measurements of growth and decline in lung function in patients with persistent childhood asthma may reveal links between asthma and subsequent chronic airflow obstruction.

METHODS

We classified children with asthma according to four characteristic patterns of lung-function growth and decline on the basis of graphs showing forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), representing spirometric measurements performed from childhood into adulthood. Risk factors associated with abnormal patterns were also examined. To define normal values, we used FEV1 values from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who did not have asthma.

RESULTS

Of the 684 study participants, 170 (25%) had a normal pattern of lung-function growth without early decline, and 514 (75%) had abnormal patterns: 176 (26%) had reduced growth and an early decline, 160 (23%) had reduced growth only, and 178 (26%) had normal growth and an early decline. Lower baseline values for FEV1, smaller bronchodilator response, airway hyperresponsiveness at baseline, and male sex were associated with reduced growth (P<0.001 for all comparisons). At the last spirometric measurement (mean [±SD] age, 26.0±1.8 years), 73 participants (11%) met Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease spirometric criteria for lung-function impairment that was consistent with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); these participants were more likely to have a reduced pattern of growth than a normal pattern (18% vs. 3%, P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Childhood impairment of lung function and male sex were the most significant predictors of abnormal longitudinal patterns of lung-function growth and decline. Children with persistent asthma and reduced growth of lung function are at increased risk for fixed airflow obstruction and possibly COPD in early adulthood. (Funded by the Parker B. Francis Foundation and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number,NCT00000575.)

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1842-1852

Serious Asthma Events with Fluticasone plus Salmeterol versus Fluticasone Alone

BACKGROUND

The safe and appropriate use of long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) for the treatment of asthma has been widely debated. In two large clinical trials, investigators found a potential risk of serious asthma-related events associated with LABAs. This study was designed to evaluate the risk of administering the LABA salmeterol in combination with an inhaled glucocorticoid, fluticasone propionate.

METHODS

In this multicenter, randomized, double-blind trial, adolescent and adult patients (age, ≥12 years) with persistent asthma were assigned to receive either fluticasone with salmeterol or fluticasone alone for 26 weeks. All the patients had a history of a severe asthma exacerbation in the year before randomization but not during the previous month. Patients were excluded from the trial if they had a history of life-threatening or unstable asthma. The primary safety end point was the first serious asthma-related event (death, endotracheal intubation, or hospitalization). Noninferiority of fluticasone–salmeterol to fluticasone alone was defined as an upper boundary of the 95% confidence interval for the risk of the primary safety end point of less than 2.0. The efficacy end point was the first severe asthma exacerbation.

RESULTS

Of 11,679 patients who were enrolled, 67 had 74 serious asthma-related events, with 36 events in 34 patients in the fluticasone–salmeterol group and 38 events in 33 patients in the fluticasone-only group. The hazard ratio for a serious asthma-related event in the fluticasone–salmeterol group was 1.03 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64 to 1.66), and noninferiority was achieved (P=0.003). There were no asthma-related deaths; 2 patients in the fluticasone-only group underwent asthma-related intubation. The risk of a severe asthma exacerbation was 21% lower in the fluticasone–salmeterol group than in the fluticasone-only group (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.70 to 0.89), with at least one severe asthma exacerbation occurring in 480 of 5834 patients (8%) in the fluticasone–salmeterol group, as compared with 597 of 5845 patients (10%) in the fluticasone-only group (P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who received salmeterol in a fixed-dose combination with fluticasone did not have a significantly higher risk of serious asthma-related events than did those who received fluticasone alone. Patients receiving fluticasone–salmeterol had fewer severe asthma exacerbations than did those in the fluticasone-only group. (AUSTRI ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01475721.)

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1822-1830

Clinical Significance of Symptoms in Smokers with Preserved Pulmonary Function

BACKGROUND

Currently, the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requires a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) to forced vital capacity (FVC) of less than 0.70 as assessed by spirometry after bronchodilator use. However, many smokers who do not meet this definition have respiratory symptoms.

METHODS

We conducted an observational study involving 2736 current or former smokers and controls who had never smoked and measured their respiratory symptoms using the COPD Assessment Test (CAT; scores range from 0 to 40, with higher scores indicating greater severity of symptoms). We examined whether current or former smokers who had preserved pulmonary function as assessed by spirometry (FEV1:FVC ≥0.70 and an FVC above the lower limit of the normal range after bronchodilator use) and had symptoms (CAT score, ≥10) had a higher risk of respiratory exacerbations than current or former smokers with preserved pulmonary function who were asymptomatic (CAT score, <10) and whether those with symptoms had different findings from the asymptomatic group with respect to the 6-minute walk distance, lung function, or high-resolution computed tomographic (HRCT) scan of the chest.

RESULTS

Respiratory symptoms were present in 50% of current or former smokers with preserved pulmonary function. The mean (±SD) rate of respiratory exacerbations among symptomatic current or former smokers was significantly higher than the rates among asymptomatic current or former smokers and among controls who never smoked (0.27±0.67 vs. 0.08±0.31 and 0.03±0.21 events, respectively, per year; P<0.001 for both comparisons). Symptomatic current or former smokers, regardless of history of asthma, also had greater limitation of activity, slightly lower FEV1, FVC, and inspiratory capacity, and greater airway-wall thickening without emphysema according to HRCT than did asymptomatic current or former smokers. Among symptomatic current or former smokers, 42% used bronchodilators and 23% used inhaled glucocorticoids.

CONCLUSIONS

Although they do not meet the current criteria for COPD, symptomatic current or former smokers with preserved pulmonary function have exacerbations, activity limitation, and evidence of airway disease. They currently use a range of respiratory medications without any evidence base. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health; SPIROMICS ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01969344.)

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1811-1821

Fruit and vegetable consumption in adolescence and early adulthood and risk of breast cancer: population based cohort study

Objective To evaluate the association between fruit and vegetable intake during adolescence and early adulthood and risk of breast cancer.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Health professionals in the United States.

Participants 90 476 premenopausal women aged 27-44 from the Nurses’ Health Study II who completed a questionnaire on diet in 1991 as well as 44 223 of those women who completed a questionnaire about their diet during adolescence in 1998.

Main outcome measure Incident cases of invasive breast cancer, identified through self report and confirmed by pathology report.

Results There were 3235 cases of invasive breast cancer during follow-up to 2013. Of these, 1347 cases were among women who completed a questionnaire about their diet during adolescence (ages 13-18). Total fruit consumption during adolescence was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. The hazard ratio was 0.75 (95% confidence interval 0.62 to 0.90; P=0.01 for trend) for the highest (median intake 2.9 servings/day) versus the lowest (median intake 0.5 serving/day) fifth of intake. The association for fruit intake during adolescence was independent of adult fruit intake. There was no association between risk and total fruit intake in early adulthood and total vegetable intake in either adolescence or early adulthood. Higher early adulthood intake of fruits and vegetables rich in α carotene was associated with lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer. The hazard ratio was 0.82 (0.70 to 0.96) for the highest fifth (median intake 0.5 serving/day) versus the lowest fifth (median intake 0.03 serving/day) intake. The association with adolescent fruit intake was stronger for both estrogen and progesterone receptor negative cancers than estrogen and progesterone receptor positive cancers (P=0.02 for heterogeneity). For individual fruits and vegetables, greater consumption of apple, banana, and grapes during adolescence and oranges and kale during early adulthood was significantly associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Fruit juice intake in adolescence or early adulthood was not associated with risk.

Conclusion There is an association between higher fruit intake and lower risk of breast cancer. Food choices during adolescence might be particularly important.

BMJ 2016;353:i2343

Five year change in alcohol intake and risk of breast cancer and coronary heart disease among postmenopausal women: prospective cohort study

Objective To test the hypothesis that postmenopausal women who increase their alcohol intake over a five year period have a higher risk of breast cancer and a lower risk of coronary heart disease compared with stable alcohol intake.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Denmark, 1993-2012.

Participants 21 523 postmenopausal women who participated in the Diet, Cancer, and Health Study in two consecutive examinations in 1993-98 and 1999-2003. Information on alcohol intake was obtained from questionnaires completed by participants.

Main outcome measures Incidence of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, and all cause mortality during 11 years of follow-up. Information was obtained from the Danish Cancer Register, Danish Hospital Discharge Register, Danish Register of Causes of Death, and National Central Person Register. We estimated hazard ratios according to five year change in alcohol intake using Cox proportional hazards models.

Results During the study, 1054, 1750, and 2080 cases of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, and mortality occurred, respectively. Analyses modelling five year change in alcohol intake with cubic splines showed that women who increased their alcohol intake over the five year period had a higher risk of breast cancer and a lower risk of coronary heart disease than women with a stable alcohol intake. For instance, women who increased their alcohol intake by seven or 14 drinks per week (corresponding to one or two drinks more per day) had hazard ratios of breast cancer of 1.13 (95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.23) and 1.29 (1.07 to 1.55), respectively, compared to women with stable intake, and adjusted for age, education, body mass index, smoking, Mediterranean diet score, parity, number of births, and hormone replacement therapy. For coronary heart disease, corresponding hazard ratios were 0.89 (0.81 to 0.97) and 0.78 (0.64 to 0.95), respectively, adjusted for age, education, body mass index, Mediterranean diet score, smoking, physical activity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. Results among women who reduced their alcohol intake over the five year period were not significantly associated with risk of breast cancer or coronary heart disease. Analyses of all cause mortality showed that women who increased their alcohol intake from a high intake (≥14 drinks per week) to an even higher intake had a higher mortality risk that women with a stable high intake.

Conclusion In this study of postmenopausal women over a five year period, results support the hypotheses that alcohol intake is associated with increased risk of breast cancer and decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

BMJ 2016;353:i2314

Randomized Trial of Introduction of Allergenic Foods in Breast-Fed Infants

BACKGROUND

The age at which allergenic foods should be introduced into the diet of breast-fed infants is uncertain. We evaluated whether the early introduction of allergenic foods in the diet of breast-fed infants would protect against the development of food allergy.

METHODS

We recruited, from the general population, 1303 exclusively breast-fed infants who were 3 months of age and randomly assigned them to the early introduction of six allergenic foods (peanut, cooked egg, cow’s milk, sesame, whitefish, and wheat; early-introduction group) or to the current practice recommended in the United Kingdom of exclusive breast-feeding to approximately 6 months of age (standard-introduction group). The primary outcome was food allergy to one or more of the six foods between 1 year and 3 years of age.

RESULTS

In the intention-to-treat analysis, food allergy to one or more of the six intervention foods developed in 7.1% of the participants in the standard-introduction group (42 of 595 participants) and in 5.6% of those in the early-introduction group (32 of 567) (P=0.32). In the per-protocol analysis, the prevalence of any food allergy was significantly lower in the early-introduction group than in the standard-introduction group (2.4% vs. 7.3%, P=0.01), as was the prevalence of peanut allergy (0% vs. 2.5%, P=0.003) and egg allergy (1.4% vs. 5.5%, P=0.009); there were no significant effects with respect to milk, sesame, fish, or wheat. The consumption of 2 g per week of peanut or egg-white protein was associated with a significantly lower prevalence of these respective allergies than was less consumption. The early introduction of all six foods was not easily achieved but was safe.

CONCLUSIONS

The trial did not show the efficacy of early introduction of allergenic foods in an intention-to-treat analysis. Further analysis raised the question of whether the prevention of food allergy by means of early introduction of multiple allergenic foods was dose-dependent. (Funded by the Food Standards Agency and others; EAT Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN14254740.)

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1733-1743

Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

BACKGROUND

Antiarrhythmic drugs are used commonly in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest for shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, but without proven survival benefit.

METHODS

In this randomized, double-blind trial, we compared parenteral amiodarone, lidocaine, and saline placebo, along with standard care, in adults who had nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia after at least one shock, and vascular access. Paramedics enrolled patients at 10 North American sites. The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge; the secondary outcome was favorable neurologic function at discharge. The per-protocol (primary analysis) population included all randomly assigned participants who met eligibility criteria and received any dose of a trial drug and whose initial cardiac-arrest rhythm of ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia was refractory to shock.

RESULTS

In the per-protocol population, 3026 patients were randomly assigned to amiodarone (974), lidocaine (993), or placebo (1059); of those, 24.4%, 23.7%, and 21.0%, respectively, survived to hospital discharge. The difference in survival rate for amiodarone versus placebo was 3.2 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI], −0.4 to 7.0; P=0.08); for lidocaine versus placebo, 2.6 percentage points (95% CI, −1.0 to 6.3; P=0.16); and for amiodarone versus lidocaine, 0.7 percentage points (95% CI, −3.2 to 4.7; P=0.70). Neurologic outcome at discharge was similar in the three groups. There was heterogeneity of treatment effect with respect to whether the arrest was witnessed (P=0.05); active drugs were associated with a survival rate that was significantly higher than the rate with placebo among patients with bystander-witnessed arrest but not among those with unwitnessed arrest. More amiodarone recipients required temporary cardiac pacing than did recipients of lidocaine or placebo.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine resulted in a significantly higher rate of survival or favorable neurologic outcome than the rate with placebo among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to initial shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01401647.)