It's in the Records

Chronic and circulatory disease prevalence detected through hospital records

(RxWiki News) Hospital medical records contain a lot of information on the sick and injured. They can especially reveal a lot about those who have chronic conditions.

Individuals from areas where people are more physically active were less likely to visit hospitals for circulatory conditions and other chronic disorders, a recently published study found.

The study findings reaffirm the role of physical activity in combating these conditions, according to the researchers.

"Get active to stay healthy."

Rachel Davey, PhD, and Thomas Cochrane, PhD, from the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health at the University of Canberra in Australia and the Centre for Sport and Exercise Research at Staffordshire University in the UK, investigated whether hospital statistics can help researchers detect causes of chronic disorders in different regions of a city.

The researchers focused specifically on circulatory conditions, such as blood clots and peripheral artery disease.

The study was set in a mid-sized city of about 250,000 people in central England between January 2006 and December 2007. The city was divided into 51 sections, with each section containing about 300 residents.

The researchers randomly selected about 60 adults (761 total) from each area to get an idea of that area's average level of physical activity.

The researchers also made note of the number of hospital visits involving circulatory diseases in each area and during which quarter of the year the events occurred. Patients' gender and age were also recorded.

People from the areas that reported higher levels of physical activity were about 15 percent less likely to be hospitalized for a circulatory disease event, the researchers found.

In addition, women were half as likely as men to have a circulatory event.

Areas that had older residents were almost 60 percent more likely to have a circulatory event. And circulatory events were about 10 percent more likely to occur during the last quarter of the year.

According to the researchers, hospital statistics could potentially monitor patients' health and judge the effects of public health interventions on chronic disease.

"This study supports the use of hospital episode statistics as an outcome measure in the epidemiology of chronic disease," the researchers wrote in their report. "Other than risk factors that present at general practice, these events are the earliest indicator the health care sector receives that the patient has a chronic condition."

Drs. Davey and Cochrane noted that physical activity levels and patients' age did not necessarily cause the circulatory events.

The findings might not be representative of other populations since the study was conducted in a single city and only surveyed participants on a single week of their physical activities.

Jim Crowell, owner and head trainer at Integrated Fitness and dailyRx Contributing Expert said, "I'm a big believer that taking anybody at any 'health' level and putting them into an appropriate fitness program will help with a great deal of medical health measures. I've worked with clients of all makes and models who have reported back much better health measures (as performed by their doctors) after implementing a quality fitness and nutrition protocol."

The study was published online April 16 in the journal Clinical Epidemiology. The National Prevention Research Initiative under the Medical Research Council in the UK funded the research. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Review Date: 
April 18, 2013