News Briefs Study: ACE inhibitor drugs are underused

Almost one-third of heart failure patients face an increased risk of death because they do not receive an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, according to a report in the Aug. 3, 2004, rapid-access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

A review of data from the Centers from Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) National Heart Care Project showed that 32% of elderly heart failure patients were discharged from hospitals without prescriptions for ACE inhibitors.

Patients discharged without anti-angiotensin therapy had a 14% greater risk of dying within a year compared to patients treated with ACE inhibitors.

The use of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), an alternative to ACE inhibitors in some patients with heart failure, did not explain the low rates of appropriate therapy.

Overall, 68% of the patients had prescriptions for ACE inhibitors upon hospital discharge.

The proportion of patients treated with ACE inhibitors was 69% during 1998/1999 and 67% between 2000 and 2001.

When ACE inhibitors and ARBs were considered together, 78% of patients had prescriptions at hospital discharge.

CDC: Not enough children receive flu vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that more children need to receive the flu vaccine than have received it in the past.

According to the CDC, only 4.4% of U.S. children ages 6 months to 23 months were fully vaccinated against influenza during the 2002-2003 influenza season, and only 7.4% received at least one dose of the vaccine.

"Too few young children are protected against influenza, which for this age group, can be a very serious illness," notes CDC director Julie Gerberding, MD.

"This season, CDC not only encourages flu shots for young children, we recommend them," she adds.

To be fully vaccinated, previously unvaccinated children should receive two doses, according to the CDC. Children who have received any dose of flu vaccine in previous years require only one annual dose.

To get more information from the CDC report, go to: .

To access a related article, including state coverage rates, go to: mmwrhtml/mm5337a1.htm.