Details of Critically Ill Patients with H1N1 in Mexico and Canada

Two studies, which are available online as early release articles and will be published in the November edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), detail the characteristics, treatment and outcomes of critically ill patients with H1N1 in Mexico and Canada [1-2].


Although the death rate in each of the studies is quite different, it nonetheless is as high or higher than that of seasonal flu. Furthermore, although seasonal flu typically affects people of older age — the average annual rate of influenza-associated hospitalizations over the last 20 years for people age 65 and older is 70% [3] — these studies show that H1N1 is striking many who are much younger. In both studies, the majority of critically ill patients with influenza A H1N1 had rapidly progressive respiratory failure and required mechanical ventilation.

More Education Decreases the Risk of Death

Everyone knows that a good education is important for getting a good job. Now researchers are finding that being well-educated can lengthen your life. The study, published earlier this month in the journal PLoS ONE, finds that socioeconomic inequalities in the U.S. death rate between people with less than a high school education and college graduates increased from 1993 to 2001 [1]. The widening gap is due to (i) significant decreases in mortality from all causes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and other conditions, in the most educated and (ii) unchanged or increasing death rates in the least educated.

Decrease in US Cancer Deaths

In 2003, cancer deaths in the United States decreased by 369 deaths compared to 2002, the first drop seen since 1930. In 2004, the decrease in cancer deaths was eight times greater – 3,014 deaths – than in 2003, according to a report published in the latest issue of the American Cancer Society (ACS) journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians [1].

Experts are attributing the decreases to declines in smoking, earlier detection and more effective treatment of tumors. The three most common cancers — breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer – show a decrease in death rates, with the largest change from colorectal cancer. Experts attribute much of the credit for the reduction in colorectal cancer to screening exams and the early detection of polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.