Thursday, 05. August 2010

Cystic fibrosis: Does hypertonic saline improve nutritional status?

Results were presented at this year’s European Cystic Fibrosis Conference from a study in which BMI had significantly increased for 14 cystic fibrosis patients after inhaling hypertonic saline for at least 18 months.

Due to their poor nutritional status, cystic fibrosis patients are mostly underweight and have to take dietary supplements every day. Hence, an Italian group of physicians chose the body mass index (BMI) as a quantifiable parameter for the overall state of health in this disease1.

The authors compared the baseline BMI to values during therapy, which were measured every six months. Patients’ average age was 17 years and they had been on hypertonic saline for a mean of 32 months. In those participants that did not require dietary supplements, the mean BMI increased from 18,2 to 20. In the group of patients requiring daily nutritional supplementation the mean BMI rose from 17,8 to 19,5.

The physicians’ conclusion: “Long-term HS has a positive effect on nutritional status in adolescent patients with mild to moderate CF lung disease.” However, investigators also stated that studies with more patients would be necessary to confirm these preliminary results.

Hypertonic saline is often used in cystic fibrosis patients to improve mucociliary clearance. Many studies have shown that inhaling hypertonic saline is a very beneficial treatment in CF: it facilitates airway clearance, patients experience improved lung function, and suffer less from exacerbations2. Quality of life questionnaires report that patients on the whole feel a lot better when they are on inhaled hypertonic saline therapy2.

1 Fogazzi et al. 2010 J Cyst Fibr 9 (suppl 1):S64
2 Wark & McDonald 2009 Cochrane Database Syst Rev: CD001506