Study: H1N1 flu deadliest to young, healthy people

Patients with the H1N1 swine flu virus who become severely ill and those who die tend to be relatively young adults without underlying medical conditions, according to a new Canadian study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The average age of 168 patients studied in 38 Canadian adult and pediatric intensive care units was 32.3 years. Thirty-three of the patients died within 90 days of being admitted to the hospital.

The study, released Monday, suggests that H1N1 flu might be more complex than experts had believed. Many had said the virus was most dangerous to people with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and immune system diseases. And experts say regular seasonal flu is most dangerous to the elderly.

``Our data suggest that severe disease and mortality in the current outbreak is concentrated in relatively healthy adolescents and adults between the ages of 10 and 60 years,'' the authors write.

But they go on to say that modern therapies, including breathing assistance from ventilators and antiviral medicines, can prevent most swine flu deaths.

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