Category Archives: COVID-19

Smokers may have more receptors for the new coronavirus

As if smoking weren’t bad enough for you, it seems the new coronavirus likes it, too. The lungs of people who smoke may contain more of the receptors that the new coronavirus uses to invade cells. This could explain why people with the virus who also smoke appear to be particularly vulnerable to severe illness.

The majority of people who acquire SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, experience mild-to-moderate symptoms and will fully recover without hospital treatment.

However, several studies suggest that people who smoke are significantly more likely than people who do not to develop a severe form of the illness.

For example, according to a recent study of COVID-19 cases in hospitals in mainland China, 11.8% of people who smoked had a nonsevere form of the disease, while 16.9% had severe disease.

To break into cells and start replicating itself, the virus latches onto a protein receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is present in the cells’ membranes.

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Heart attacks, heart failure, stroke: COVID-19’s dangerous cardiovascular complications

Like the gift that keeps on giving, COVID-19 is the plague that keeps on taking. It turns out that the affliction can cause complications with other medical conditions.

COVID-19 can cause serious cardiovascular complications including heart failure, heart attacks and blood clots that can lead to strokes, emergency medicine doctors report in a new scientific paper. They also caution that COVID-19 treatments can interact with medicines used to manage patients’ existing cardiovascular conditions.

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The new paper from UVA Health’s William Brady, MD, and colleagues aims to serve as a guide for emergency-medicine doctors treating patients who may have or are known to have COVID-19. The authors note that much attention has been paid to the pulmonary (breathing) complications of COVID-19, but less has been said about the cardiovascular complications that can lead to death or lasting impairment. Continue reading

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Just one meal with saturated fat may cloud mental focus -Study

Fatty food may feel like a friend during these troubled times, but new research suggests that eating just one meal high in saturated fat can hinder our ability to concentrate – not great news for people whose diets have gone south while they’re working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The study compared how 51 women performed on a test of their attention after they ate either a meal high in saturated fat or the same meal made with sunflower oil, which is high in unsaturated fat. Continue reading

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How good are face shields? – JAMA

There are a plethora of masks around, homemade as well as store bought. The range of effectiveness is vast. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that face shields may be a worthwhile alternative.

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Face shields come in various forms, but all provide a clear plastic barrier that covers the face. For optimal protection, the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece. Face shields require no special materials for fabrication and production lines can be repurposed fairly rapidly. Numerous companies, including Apple, Nike, GM, and John Deere, have all started producing face shields. These shields can be made from materials found in craft or office supply stores. Thus, availability of face shields is currently greater than that of medical masks.

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Heating could be best way to disinfect N95 masks for reuse

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, N95 face masks have been in short supply. Health care workers, in particular, desperately need these masks to protect themselves from the respiratory droplets of infected patients. But because of the shortage, many have to wear the same mask repeatedly. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Nano, the American Chemical Society publication have tested several methods for disinfecting N95 materials, finding that heating them preserves their filtration efficiency for 50 cycles of disinfection.

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N95 masks contain a layer of “meltblown” polypropylene fibers that form a porous, breathable network. To help capture smaller particles that could slip through the holes, the fibers are electrostatically charged. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended several methods for disinfecting N95 masks, such as heating, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and bleach treatment, but so far they have not been tested extensively, especially for multiple rounds of disinfection. Yi Cui and colleagues wanted to compare five of the methods that could reasonably be used within a hospital setting to see how mask materials hold up to repeated disinfections. Continue reading

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Calming your mind – Mayo Clinic

The coronavirus attacks us on a number of fronts, respiratory system big time. But, living in the shadow of the virus takes a toll on all of us whether we succumb to the disease or not. It has changed our daily lives in many stressful ways. The following is from Dr. Amit Sood , former internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic. He was director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and was chair of the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.

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Imagine it is spring 2025

Tucked in your blanket, trying to sleep at night, your mind travels back five years.

You remember the fear — fearing doorknobs, grocery bags, light switches, sneezes, handshakes and hugs.

You remember the sadness — the loss of freedom, time with colleagues, birthday parties, sleepovers, visits to the mall.

You remember the anger — anger at human greed, irrationality, willful ignorance.

You remember the grief — sobbing at the loss of fellow beings who breathed their last breath alone in an ICU to the sound of a ventilator.

But it’s not all negative.

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‘Unprecedented’ levels of COVID-19 pandemic trauma studied

The COVID-19 pandemic could inflict long-lasting emotional trauma on an unprecedented global scale, leaving millions grappling with debilitating psychological disorders, according to a new study commissioned by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University.

An illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depicts the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

“There are some valid concerns that this coronavirus pandemic could cause emotional trauma and PTSD at a level we’ve never seen before,” said Megan Holmes, an associate professor of social work and the founding director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity at the university’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. Continue reading

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Will social distancing be the new normal? Mayo Clinic

As some states look toward relaxing restrictions and social distancing measures, such as stay-at-home orders, new projections suggest social distancing may need to continue through 2022. Researchers predict that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will return every winter, and that prolonged or intermittent social distancing strategies could limit the strain on health care systems.

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Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic COVID-19 expert, predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will change many aspects of U.S. culture in the future, including the need to always practice social distancing measures. Continue reading

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Summary of preliminary data about obesity and severity of COVID-19

It may be that Eat less; move more; live longer which I have been writing about for nearly 10 years here, also has some relevance in the fight against COVID-19 .

In a Nature Reviews Endocrinology “Comment” authors from the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health call for more research about the relationships of obesity, disproportionate fat distribution and impaired metabolic health with the severity of COVID-19.

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The authors raise the point that most of the studies that have reported comorbidities in patients with COVID-19 did not provide data on body weight and height, which are used to estimate adipose tissue mass, by calculating the BMI. In their Comment they also briefly summarize novel research findings, deriving in part from articles which have not yet undergone peer-review, indicating that overweight and, particularly, obesity may associate with a substantial risk of a severe course of COVID-19. Importantly, these studies suggest that this risk is independent of cardiometabolic diseases and other comorbidities.

The authors then discuss possible mechanisms explaining this relationship. Among them respiratory dysfunction in obesity may result in hypoventilation-associated pneumonia and hypoxia-induced cardiac stress. Furthermore, they highlight that not only the calculation of the BMI, but also the measurement of the waist circumference and of glucose and insulin levels, which can be used to determine the presence of prediabetes and insulin resistance, may be important, as these parameters are independent determinants of cardiometabolic diseases, pneumonia and mortality.

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How the virus gets into respiratory tissue — and how it may exploit one of our defenses

 

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The peer-reviewed study, published as a preprint, will help focus efforts to understand what SARS-COV-2 does in the body, why some people are more susceptible, and how best to search for treatments, the researchers say.

Multiple research models

When news broke about a new coronavirus in China, Ordovas-Montanes and Shalek had already been studying different cell types from throughout the human respiratory system and intestine. They also had gathered data from primates and mice.

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Boost your immune system with these tips – AHA

I have spent the bulk of the past 10 years on this blog exhorting you to eat less; move more; live longer. Now, it seems that in the light of the global pandemic, they are still key.

For years, Dr. Ahmad Garrett-Price has been counseling patients about the need to keep their immune systems strong, emphasizing exercise, nutrition and sleep.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic toll continues to grow, the advice is even more relevant.

“We don’t have a proven vaccine, and we don’t have proven treatments,” said Garrett-Price, a family practice physician with Baylor Scott & White Health System in Dallas. “So, our immune system is our first line of defense.”

Although a strong immune system is helpful, he and other health experts stress the guidelines in place to battle the coronavirus’s spread remain crucial: social distancing, frequent hand-washing, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and staying at home as much as possible to avoid getting COVID-19 in the first place. Continue reading

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The Rolling Stones rock the coronavirus

Leave it to the Rolling Stones to put music to our experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was just released (around 2:00 PM CST Thursday).

In their words, “’Living In A Ghost Town’ – really resonates with what we’re living through right now, so they wanted to share it with you.”

As Mick sings  “… Life was so beautiful, then we all got locked down ….”


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Check out Mick and Keith … and me  

Tony

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Depression, anxiety may be side effects of COVID-19

Millions of Americans are being impacted by the psychological fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath, and large numbers may experience emotional distress and be at increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, according to a new article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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The Perspective article, co-authored by Carol North, M.D., a UT Southwestern crisis psychiatrist who has studied survivors of disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, calls on already stretched health care providers to monitor the psychosocial needs of their patients as well as themselves and fellow health care workers during this time. Continue reading

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Higher daily step count linked with lower all-cause mortality – NIH

This is most welcome information by my reckoning. When we are all staying-at-home these days, I love being reminded that it pays health dividends to get out and move. This bloody virus is not going to last forever. Walking is still superb exercise. Check out my Page – Why you should walk more for further information.

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In a new study, higher daily step counts were associated with lower mortality risk from all causes. The research team, which included investigators from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), both parts of the National Institutes of Health, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also found that the number of steps a person takes each day, but not the intensity of stepping, had a strong association with mortality.

The findings were published March 24, 2020, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Continue reading

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UAB to offer clinical trial for inhaled nitric oxide treatment of patients with severe COVID-19

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been selected to begin enrolling patients in an international study assessing the use of inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) to improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients with severely damaged lungs.

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iNO has been used for the treatment of failing lungs, but it was also found to have antiviral properties against coronaviruses.

Currently, there are no approved treatment options available against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, although many medications are currently being tested to see if they may be effective. Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a severe form of lung failure, is the leading cause of death in COVID-19.

iNO has been used for the treatment of failing lungs, but it was also found to have antiviral properties against coronaviruses. The antiviral effect of iNO was tested and demonstrated during the 2002-2003 SARS pandemic, which was caused by a similar coronavirus called the SARS-CoV virus. Continue reading

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How effective are cloth masks?

I came across a YouTube video on cloth masks that gave a really good explanation of how the virus travels and how effective social distancing and masks actually are. Thought you would benefit from it.

Tony

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