Tag Archives: COVID-19

After COVID-19 watch for these potential heart and brain problems – AHA

COVID-19 was full of surprises early on, causing mild problems in the short term for some people and serious complications for others, according to the American Heart Association.

Long term, it may be just as capricious.

Studies are spotting potential heart and brain problems up to a year after infection with SARS-CoV-2, even in people who had mild COVID-19.

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The possible long-term effects include “a myriad of symptoms affecting different organs,” said Dr. José Biller, director of the COVID-19 neurology clinic at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. “So, it could be the lungs, it could be cardiovascular, it could be the nervous system, it could be mental health or behavioral problems.”

Estimates vary widely on how many people may be affected. Research suggests about 10% to 20% of people experience mid- or long-term issues from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.

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UToledo Study Strengthens Case That Vitamins Cannot Treat COVID-19

A new review of COVID-19 hospitalization data by researchers at The University of Toledo has found that taking immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C , vitamin D and zinc do not lessen your chance of dying from COVID-19.

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Early in the pandemic, healthcare providers tried a variety of micronutrients as potential therapies for the new illness. More recently, supplements have been promoted by some as an alternative to the safe and proven vaccines.

However, Dr. Azizullah Beran said there’s been little evidence those strategies work, despite the enduring interest in them.

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Don’t try to get COVID – NW Medicine Experts

As omicron spreads across the country, some have wondered if they should just expose themselves to the coronavirus and get it over with. 

Don’t do it, say Northwestern Medicine experts.

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“You’d be crazy to try to get infected with this,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Murphy and other Northwestern Medicine experts explain why that strategy is high risk for you, public health and the economy. They also discuss population immunity, and whether it’s inevitable that you will contract COVID-19.

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Common risk factor for Alzheimer’s may predispose carriers to severe COVID-19

A study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital suggests that the APOE4 allele may also increase cerebral microhaemorrhages related to COVID-19 and associate with mental fatigue related to long COVID.

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Roughly one-third of Finns carry the APOE4 allele, a genetic variant that predisposes carriers to Alzheimer’s disease. Globally, researchers have reported observations that show a link between APOE4 and COVID-19, both in terms of increased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 mortality. Now, a research group at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has investigated the link between the APOE4 allele and the severity of COVID-19 in the Finnish population.

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Huge real world study of third dose COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

The Clalit Research Institute, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University, analyzed one of the world’s largest integrated health record databases to examine the effectiveness of the third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162B2 vaccine against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. The study provides the largest peer-reviewed evaluation of the effectiveness of a third “booster” dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in a nationwide mass-vaccination setting. The study was conducted in Israel, an early global leader in third-dose COVID-19 vaccination rates. 


    
Many countries are currently experiencing a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 infections despite hitherto successful vaccination campaigns. This may be due to the greater infectiousness of the delta (B.1.617.2) variant of SARS-CoV-2, and to waning immunity of vaccines administered months earlier. In the face of the current resurgence, several countries are planning to administer a third booster dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. 

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This study suggests that a third vaccine dose is effective in reducing severe COVID-19-related outcomes compared to individuals who have received two vaccine doses at least 5 months ago. It is the first to estimate the effectiveness of a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine—BNT162b2 specifically—against severe outcomes with adjustment for various possible confounders, including comorbidities and behavioral factors. The study’s large size also allows a more precise assessment of the vaccine’s effectiveness across different time periods, different subpopulations (by sex, age and number of comorbidities), and different severe outcomes (which are rarer and thus require greater sample size). A recent clinical trial conducted by BioNTech included a smaller sample size and did not estimate the third-dose’s effects for more severe outcomes.

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I got my annual physical and flu shot again …

Every October as surely as the leaves will fall, I go in for my physical exam and flu shot. This year was only slightly different. It was also time for my third Covid shot to boost my Feb and March ones.

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This is always a somewhat uncomfortable day for me. I started with a bike ride. Nothing new, but I limited it to 10 miles. As I was getting blood work done, I had to fast. That meant no food to bolster my energy after a night of sleep and a bike ride. I needed to walk the dog also before heading out for the hospital.

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COVID-19 Nasal Vaccine Candidate Effective at Preventing Disease Transmission

Breathe in, breathe out. That’s how easy it is for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to enter your nose. And though remarkable progress has been made in developing intramuscular vaccines against SARS-CoV- 2, such as the readily available Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, nothing yet – like a nasal vaccine – has been approved to provide mucosal immunity in the nose, the first barrier against the virus before it travels down to the lungs.

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But now, we’re one step closer.

Navin Varadarajan, University of Houston M.D. Anderson Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his colleagues, are reporting in iScience the development of an intranasal subunit vaccine that provides durable local immunity against inhaled pathogens.

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Study shows uptick in U.S. alcohol beverage sales during COVID-19 pandemic

To paraphrase Claude Rains in the movie Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to learn that … “

During the COVID-19 pandemic months of March 2020 to September 2020, U.S. alcohol retail store sales increased compared to usual trends while food services and drinking places sales decreased markedly during the same period, according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. These results indicate an increase in home drinking in the U.S. The findings are published online in the journal Alcohol.

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The researchers used alcohol retail store sales data of beer, wine, and liquor store (BWLS) purchases from January 1992 to September 2020 from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey, which provides sales estimates at retail and food services. Alcohol sales changes in the U.S. throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were used as an indicator of at-home drinking.  Calculating variations in monthly sales enabled the authors to show annual differences in monthly BWLS sales between consecutive years from 1992 to 2020.

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COVID-19 Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease-like Cognitive Impairment – Study

A new Cleveland Clinic-led study has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. The findings, published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes common in Alzheimer’s, and may help inform risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.

Reports of neurological complications in COVID-19 patients and “long-hauler” patients whose symptoms persist after the infection clears are becoming more common, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) may have lasting effects on brain function. However, it is not yet well understood how the virus leads to neurological issues.

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“While some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infects brain cells directly, others found no evidence of the virus in the brain,” says Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead author on the study. “Identifying how COVID-19 and neurological problems are linked will be critical for developing effective preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the surge in neurocognitive impairments that we expect to see in the near future.”

In the study, the researchers harnessed artificial intelligence using existing datasets of patients with Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and those associated with several neurological diseases where closer proximity suggests related or shared disease pathways. The researchers also analyzed the genetic factors that enabled SARS-COV-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.

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COVID-19 vaccination: Examining negative dominance on social media

Vaccine negativity and reluctance didn’t just emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent study published in the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal, authors from Loyola University Maryland and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explored the appearance of negative dominance – a concept in which negative messages outweigh positive, solution-oriented messages in audiences’ perceptions – in the context of COVID-19 vaccine-related information and activity online.

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Prior research has looked at media coverage to identify vaccine concerns among the public and its impact on vaccine-related beliefs and behaviors, the spread of misinformation and fake news on the Internet, and the role of social media in aiding vaccine hesitancy, among others. Surprisingly, however, research to date has yet to explicitly explore negative dominance of vaccine-related information online using more recently developed tools for analyzing big data.

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Common medication used to reduce cholesterol levels may reduce COVID-19 severity

In a new study from University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers have confirmed that patients taking statin medications had a 41 percent lower risk of in-hospital death from COVID-19. The findings were published July 15, 2021 in PLOS ONE and expand upon prior research conducted at UC San Diego Health in 2020.

Statins are commonly used to reduce blood cholesterol levels by blocking liver enzymes responsible for making cholesterol. They are widely prescribed: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 93 percent of patients who use a cholesterol-lowering drug use a statin.

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“When faced with this virus at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of speculation surrounding certain medications that affect the body’s ACE2 receptor, including statins, and whether they may influence COVID-19 risk,” said Lori Daniels, MD, lead study author, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health.

“At the time, we thought that statins may inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection through their known anti-inflammatory effects and binding capabilities, which could potentially stop progression of the virus.”

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How COVID-19 is changing life expectancy

A year after the first U.S. coronavirus deaths, UCLA sociologist Patrick Heuveline reports on the dramatic impact

As a demographer — someone who studies how human populations grow and change — UCLA professor of sociology Patrick Heuveline typically spends time each year traveling around the world, talking to people about their hopes for their families and their dreams for the future.

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“Demography is obviously all about numbers — but at its core, it’s about people’s lives,” he said.

A big part of understanding demographics is understanding mortality, which is why in 2020 Heuveline’s research took on a grim new reality. He began tracking worldwide COVID-19 deaths and interpreting what those numbers mean to overall life expectancy.

April marks a somber milestone in the pandemic: one year since the U.S. recorded its first COVID-19–related deaths. As of the end of March, more than 2.8 million around the world, including more than 550,000 Americans, have died of causes related to COVID-19.

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Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such cells could persist for a lifetime, churning out antibodies all the while.

The findings, published May 24 in the journal Nature, suggest that mild cases of COVID-19 leave those infected with lasting antibody protection and that repeated bouts of illness are likely to be uncommon.

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“Last fall, there were reports that antibodies wane quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” said senior author Ali Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology & immunology, of medicine and of molecular microbiology. “But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero; they plateau. Here, we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”

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Pregnant women with COVID-19 face high mortality rate

In a worldwide study of 2,100 pregnant women, those who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy were 20 times more likely to die than those who did not contract the virus, according to the University of Washington (UW).

UW Medicine and University of Oxford doctors led this first-of-its-kind study, published today in JAMA Pediatrics. The investigation involved more than 100 researchers and pregnant women from 43 maternity hospitals in 18 low-, middle- and high-income nations; 220 of the women received care in the United States, 40 at UW Medicine. The research was conducted between April and August of 2020.  

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The study is unique because each woman affected by COVID-19 was compared with two uninfected pregnant women who gave birth during the same span in the same hospital.

Aside from an increased risk of death, women and their newborns were also more likely to experience preterm birth, preeclampsia and admission to the ICU and/or intubation. Of the mothers who tested positive for the disease, 11.5% of their babies also tested positive, the study found. 

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Past COVID-19 infection doesn’t fully protect young people against re-infection – Study

Although antibodies induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection are largely protective, they do not completely protect against reinfection in young people, as evidenced through a longitudinal, prospective study of more than 3,000 young, healthy members of the US Marines Corps conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Naval Medical Research Center, published April 15 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

“Our findings indicate that reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 in health young adults is common” says Stuart Sealfon, MD, the Sara B. and Seth M. Glickenhaus Professor of Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and senior author of the paper. “Despite a prior COVID-19 infection, young people can catch the virus again and may still transmit it to others. This is an important point to know and remember as vaccine rollouts continue. Young people should get the vaccine whenever possible, since vaccination is necessary to boost immune responses, prevent reinfection, and reduce transmission.”

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The study, conducted between May and November 2020, revealed that around 10 percent (19 out of 189) of participants who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-s (seropositive) became reinfected, compared with new infections in 50 percent (1.079 out of 2,247) of participants who had not been previously infected (seronegative). While seronegative study participants had a five times greater risk of infection than seropositive participants, the study showed that seropositive people are still at risk of reinfection.

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COVID-19 may have increased mental health issues within families – Study

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many families found themselves suddenly isolated together at home. A year later, new research has linked this period with a variety of large, detrimental effects on individuals’ and families’ well-being and functioning.

The study — led by Penn State researchers — found that in the first months of the pandemic, parents reported that their children were experiencing much higher levels of “internalizing” problems like depression and anxiety, and “externalizing” problems such as disruptive and aggressive behavior, than before the pandemic. Parents also reported that they themselves were experiencing much higher levels of depression and lower levels of coparenting quality with their partners.

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Mark Feinberg, research professor of health and human development at Penn State, said the results — recently published in the journal Family Process — give insight into just how devastating periods of family and social stress can be for parents and children, and how important a good coparenting relationship can be for family well-being.

“Stress in general — whether daily hassles or acute, crisis-driven stress — typically leads to greater conflict and hostility in family relationships,” Feinberg said. “If parents can support each other in these situations, the evidence from past research indicates that they will be able to be more patient and more supportive with their children, rather than becoming more harsh and angry.”

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