Tag Archives: COVID-19

Stroke risk higher than expected among COVID-19 patients

New research found patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had a higher risk of stroke, compared with patients who had similar infectious conditions such as influenza and sepsis in prior studies. Those who had an ischemic stroke were more likely to be older, male, Black race, or have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) compared with other COVID-19 patients, according to late-breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2021. The meeting was held virtually, March 17-19, 2021 and is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

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For this analysis, researchers accessed the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry to investigate stroke risk among patients hospitalized for COVID-19, their demographic characteristics, medical histories and in-hospital survival. The COVID-19 Registry data pulled for this study included more than 20,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.S. between January and November 2020.

“These findings suggest that COVID-19 may increase the risk for stroke, though the exact mechanism for this is still unknown,” said lead study author Saate S. Shakil, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. “As the pandemic continues, we are finding that coronavirus is not just a respiratory illness, but a vascular disease that can affect many organ systems.”

Two hundred eighty-one people (1.4%) in the COVID-19 CVD Registry had a stroke confirmed by diagnostic imaging during hospitalization. Of these, 148 patients (52.7%) experienced ischemic stroke; 7 patients (2.5%) had transient ischemic attack (TIA); and 127 patients (45.2%) experienced a bleeding stroke or unspecified type of stroke.

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I got my second COVID shot …

I am writing this to update you on my COVID shot situation. I got my first shot on February 11th. You can read about it in detail here . Actually, there was much more to that one as I had to walk my way through icy Chicago winter weather conditions to get to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, just over a mile from my apartment.

I received this confirmation from the hospital.

On Wednesday, morning, March third, I retraced my steps on a relatively balmy – 40 degree day. Much more pleasant walk.

I arrived around 10:00 AM for my shot and as occurred the first time, went right in. There was a huge lit up screen on the wall that read – 338 shots had been administered that morning.

The actual procedure lasted only minutes and I left to go to the OBSERVATION AREA two floors down to wait 15 minutes to confirm that there were no immediate ill effects.

As there weren’t, I left and decided to treat myself to a Starbucks cappuccino for the walk home.

This is Friday morning. I am happy to report that I experienced zero ill effects from the second shot – Not even a sore shoulder. Friends and neighbors have told me that they had a stronger reaction to the second jab than the first, including fatigue, headaches and soreness on the site. Lucky me.

I feel good about getting inoculated and I hope that you will, too. The Wall Street Journal had a wonderful positive article last month about us reaching Herd Immunity by April because of the sharp drop in cases, hospitalization and deaths in the past weeks.

Here are just a couple of paragraphs from the Journal:

“In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

“Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.”

Tony

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Exhaled respiratory droplets increase in number with the onset of COVID-19 infection — and with aging and obesity

Superspreading events have distinguished the COVID-19 pandemic from the early outbreak of the disease. Now, research from Harvard University, Tulane University, MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital finds that a critical factor in these and other transmission events is the propensity of certain individuals to exhale large numbers of small respiratory droplets. The researchers found that age, obesity and COVID-19 infection all correlate with a propensity to breathe out more respiratory droplets.

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Understanding the source and variance of respiratory droplet generation may lead to effective approaches to reducing COVID-19 infection and transmission.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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People with dementia at higher risk for COVID-19 – Study

Patients with dementia were at a significantly increased risk for COVID-19 — and the risk was higher still for African Americans with dementia, according to a study led by Case Western Reserve University researchers.

Reviewing electronic health records of 61.9 million adults in the United States, researchers found the risk of contracting COVID-19 was twice as high for patients with dementia than for those without it — while among those with dementia, African Americans had close to three times the risk of being infected with COVID-19 as Caucasians did.

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In addition, patients with dementia who contracted COVID-19 had significantly worse outcomes in terms of hospitalizations and deaths than those who had COVID-19 but not dementia.

The study was published Feb. 9 by the peer-reviewed Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association and highlights the need to protect people with dementia — particularly African Americans — as part of the strategy to control the pandemic.

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Humidity from masks may lessen severity of COVID-19 – Study

Masks help protect the people wearing them from getting or spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but now researchers from the National Institutes of Health have added evidence for yet another potential benefit for wearers: The humidity created inside the mask may help combat respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.

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The study, led by researchers in the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), found that face masks substantially increase the humidity in the air that the mask-wearer breathes in. This higher level of humidity in inhaled air, the researchers suggest, could help explain why wearing masks has been linked to lower disease severity in people infected with SARS-CoV-2, because hydration of the respiratory tract is known to benefit the immune system. The study published in the Biophysical Journal.

“We found that face masks strongly increase the humidity in inhaled air and propose that the resulting hydration of the respiratory tract could be responsible for the documented finding that links lower COVID-19 disease severity to wearing a mask,” said the study’s lead author, Adriaan Bax, Ph.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator. “High levels of humidity have been shown to mitigate severity of the flu, and it may be applicable to severity of COVID-19 through a similar mechanism.”

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COVID-19 Activity Chart

I know I don’t have to repeat myself about the value of exercise (movement), especially during this isolating pandemic we are experiencing. But, I found this infographic and I thought it might be useful to you.

Tony

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A personal benefit of social distancing: lower odds of getting COVID-19

Considering the greater good by social distancing during a pandemic turns out to have an attractive personal benefit: A new study has found that staying away from others also reduces an individual person’s chances of contracting COVID-19. Social distancing is not just for the benefit of others.

Researchers presented study participants with virtual behavior scenarios of various public settings – a grocery store, a crowded beach, a crosswalk – and asked them to place themselves or fictional people in those contexts based on their social distancing preferences.

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COVID-19 severity affected by proportion of antibodies targeting crucial viral protein – Study

A comprehensive study of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 associates mild disease with comparatively high levels of antibodies that target the viral spike protein. But all antibodies wane within months.

COVID-19 antibodies preferentially target a different part of the virus in mild cases of COVID-19 than they do in severe cases, and wane significantly within several months of infection, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Medicine

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The findings identify new links between the course of the disease and a patient’s immune response. They also raise concerns about whether people can be re-infected, whether antibody tests to detect prior infection may underestimate the breadth of the pandemic and whether vaccinations may need to be repeated at regular intervals to maintain a protective immune response. 

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Wearable Sensor May Signal You’re Developing COVID-19 – Even If Your Symptoms Are Subtle – Study

A smart ring that generates continuous temperature data may foreshadow COVID-19, even in cases when infection is not suspected. The device, which may be a better illness indicator than a thermometer, could lead to earlier isolation and testing, curbing the spread of infectious diseases, according to a preliminary study led by UC San Francisco and UC San Diego.  

The Oura Ring is a wearable sensor that continuously measures sleep and wakefulness, heart and respiratory rates and temperature. Photo courtesy of Oura

An analysis of data from 50 people previously infected with COVID-19, published online in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports on Dec. 14, 2020, found that data obtained from the commercially available smart ring accurately identified higher temperatures in people with symptoms of COVID-19. 

While it is not known how effectively the smart ring can detect asymptomatic COVID-19, which affects between 10 percent to 70 percent of those infected according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the authors reported that for 38 of the 50 participants, fever was identified when symptoms were unreported or even unnoticed. 

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LED lights found to kill coronavirus: Global first in fight against COVID-19 – TAU

Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) have proven that the coronavirus can be killed efficiently, quickly, and cheaply using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs). They believe that the UV-LED technology will soon be available for private and commercial use.

This is the first study conducted on the disinfection efficiency of UV-LED irradiation at different wavelengths or frequencies on a virus from the family of coronaviruses. The study was led by Professor Hadas Mamane, Head of the Environmental Engineering Program at TAU’s School of Mechnical Engineering, Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. The article was published in November 2020 issue of the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology.

“The entire world is currently looking for effective solutions to disinfect the coronavirus,” said Professor Mamane. “The problem is that in order to disinfect a bus, train, sports hall, or plane by chemical spraying, you need physical manpower, and in order for the spraying to be effective, you have to give the chemical time to act on the surface. Disinfection systems based on LED bulbs, however, can be installed in the ventilation system and air conditioner, for example, and sterilize the air sucked in and then emitted into the room.

“We discovered that it is quite simple to kill the coronavirus using LED bulbs that radiate ultraviolet light,” she explained. “We killed the viruses using cheaper and more readily available LED bulbs, which consume little energy and do not contain mercury like regular bulbs. Our research has commercial and societal implications, given the possibility of using such LED bulbs in all areas of our lives, safely and quickly.”

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Research strongly suggests COVID-19 virus enters the brain

More and more evidence is coming out that people with COVID-19 are suffering from cognitive effects, such as brain fog and fatigue.

And researchers are discovering why. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, like many viruses before it, is bad news for the brain. In a study published Dec.16 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that the spike protein, often depicted as the red arms of the virus, can cross the blood-brain barrier in mice.

The S1 protein likely causes the brain to release inflammatory products causing a storm in the brain, researchers said. Credit Alice Gray

This strongly suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, can enter the brain.

The spike protein, often called the S1 protein, dictates which cells the virus can enter. Usually, the virus does the same thing as its binding protein, said lead author William A. Banks, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Healthcare System physician and researcher. Banks said binding proteins like S1 usually by themselves cause damage as they detach from the virus and cause inflammation.

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Pandemic has severely disrupted sleep, increasing stress and medication use – Study

The COVID-19 pandemic is seriously affecting the sleep habits of half of those surveyed in a new study from The Royal and the University of Ottawa, leading to further stress and anxiety plus further dependence on sleep medication.

The global pandemic’s impact on daily routines extends to the bed, according to ‘Profiles of sleep changes during the COVID?19 pandemic: Demographic, behavioural and psychological factors’. The study was led by Principal Investigator Rébecca Robillard, an Assistant Professor and co-director of the Sleep Laboratory of the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, and Head Scientist in the Sleep Research Unit at The Royal Institute of Mental Health Research and published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

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Dr. Robillard and her team, which was comprised of nearly two dozen scientists from across North America, conducted an online survey of 5,525 Canadian during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. She walked us through some of the study’s most important findings.

How has the pandemic affected our sleep?

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Researchers rank various mask protection, modifications against COVID-19

It’s been shown that when two people wearing masks interact, the chance of COVID-19 transmission is drastically reduced. This is why public health officials have pleaded for all people to wear masks: they not only protect the wearer from expelling particles that might carry SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), but masks also protect the wearer from inhaling particles that carry the virus. Some people, though, still refuse to wear a mask. So UNC School of Medicine scientists, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, researched the protectiveness of various kinds of consumer-grade and modified masks, assuming the mask wearer was exposed to the virus, like when we interact with an unmasked infected person.

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Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the research shows that some masks were as much as 79 percent effective at blocking particles that could carry the virus. These were masks made of two layers of woven nylon and fit snug against the wearer’s face. Unmodified medical procedure masks with ear loops – also known as surgical masks – offered 38.5 percent filtration efficacy, but when the ear loops were tied in a specific way to tighten the fit, the efficacy improved to 60.3 percent. And when a layer of nylon was added, these masks offered 80 percent effectiveness.

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This Anti-COVID Mask Breaks the Mold

In the early days of the pandemic, amidst all the uncertainty, one thing was for sure: N95 masks – the personal protective respiratory devices that filter out viruses, bacteria, and wildfire smoke – were in short supply. So when materials scientists Jeff Urban and Peter Hosemann heard that a local HMO needed advice on N95 alternatives, they immediately knew what to do: Make a better mask.   

To address PPE shortages during the pandemic, scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley are developing a rechargeable, reusable, anti-COVID N95 mask and a 3D-printable silicon-cast mask mold. 

Hosemann got on the phone, and discovered that the HMO’s doctors and supply managers wanted to know what makes an effective antiviral mask, and how they could verify whether the masks they found were actually any good. “It was helpful to learn what their needs were, and how we could fill in and help support their mission,” said Hosemann, who holds titles of faculty scientist in the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Ernest S. Kuh Chair in Engineering at UC Berkeley.

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Using existing treatment earlier saves COVID-19 patients’ lives

The lives of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are being saved by doctors using an existing medical treatment at an earlier stage.

Dr Luigi Sedda of Lancaster University analyzed the results from the team at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (WWL). Their research has now been published in the medical journal BMJ Respiratory Open.

CPAP treatment, often used at home to help people with sleep problems, helps to keep the lungs open and makes breathing easier.

He said: “We show that Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) in the first days of hospitalization seems to save between 10% to 20% of patients. However, it is important to underline that this was a pilot study with a small sample size, although comforting evidence is starting to emerge elsewhere.”

According to NHS England, 96% of people who died with Covid had at least one serious health condition and the majority are over the age of 80.

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Pandemic social isolation linked with high blood pressure

Lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with an increase in high blood pressure among patients admitted to emergency. That’s the finding of a study presented at the 46th Argentine Congress of Cardiology (SAC).

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SAC 2020 is a virtual meeting during 19 to 21 November. Faculty from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) will participate in joint scientific sessions with the Argentine Society of Cardiology as part of the ESC Global Activities program.

“Admission to the emergency department during the mandatory social isolation period was linked with a 37% increase in the odds of having high blood pressure – even after taking into account age, gender, month, day and time of consultation, and whether or not the patient arrived by ambulance,” said study author Dr. Matías Fosco of Favaloro Foundation University Hospital, Buenos Aires.

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