Leprosy in elderly people and the profile of a retrospective cohort in an endemic region of the Brazilian Amazon.
BACKGROUND: Leprosy has a global presence; more than 180 thousand new cases were registered in 2013, 15% of which were found in the Americas. The elderly are a very susceptible demographic in terms of developing illnesses, mainly because of characteristics natural to the senescence of the human organism. This study's goals were to analyze leprosy in an elderly population from a hyperendemic region of the Brazilian Amazon in a historical series from 2004 to 2013 and to determine the clinical and epidemiological profile of a series of leprosy cases of elderly people in the period spanning from 2009 to 2013.
METHODS: To achieve these goals, an observational, longitudinal, retrospective and descriptive study was put together to analyze leprosy in elderly people from data acquired from the Notification Aggravations Information System. Furthermore, a profile of the disease from a retrospective cohort based on data collected from medical records was developed.
RESULTS: The number of new cases and the leprosy detection rate decreased across the observed period but remained stable among the elderly. The trend for the next ten years indicates decreases in the number of cases and in the detection rate in the general population and an increase in only the elderly. The overall profile was characterized by a predominance of males (64.32%), the multibacillary clinical form (87.57%), Type 1 reaction episodes (37.50%) and some physical incapacity at diagnosis (49.19%). The risk of reaction was greater in the first six months of multidrug therapy, and the positive result from the skin smear was associated with the greater chance of reactional condition development.
CONCLUSIONS: The resulting data demonstrate that leprosy amongst the elderly deserves attention because of the increased susceptibility to disability in this age group, with their higher risk of reaction and their greater level of co-morbidity.