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Patients taking statin medications -- commonly used to reduce blood cholesterol levels -- are at a 41 percent lower risk of in-hospital death from Covid-19, researchers have found.
Statins block liver enzymes responsible for making cholesterol. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 93 percent of patients who use a cholesterol-lowering drug use a statin.
The use of statins or an anti-hypertension medication was associated with a 32 percent lower risk of death among Covid-19 inpatients with a history of cardiovascular disease or hypertension.
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This is because statins and anti-hypertension medications stabilize the underlying diseases for which they are prescribed, making patients more likely to recover from Covid-19, according to researchers from the University of California San Diego.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the research team analyzed anonymized medical records of 10,541 patients admitted for Covid-19 over a nine-month period, January through September 2020, at 104 different hospitals in the US.
Statins and anti-hypertension medications stabilize the underlying diseases for which they are prescribed. Pixabay
"From this data, we performed more advanced analyses as we attempted to control for coexisting medical conditions, socioeconomic status, and hospital factors," said lead author Lori Daniels, Professor, and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at the varsity's School of Medicine.
"In doing so, we confirmed our prior findings that statins are associated with a reduced risk of death from Covid-19 among patients hospitalized for Covid-19," Daniels added.
The ACE2 receptor -- the regulatory target of statins -- helps control blood pressure. In 2020, it was discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily uses the same receptor to enter lung cells.
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"As with any observational study, we cannot say for certain that the associations we describe between statin use and reduced severity of Covid-19 infection are definitely due to the statins themselves; however, we can now say with very strong evidence that they may play a role in substantially lowering a patient's risk of death from Covid-19," said Daniels.
"We hope that our research findings are an incentive for patients to continue with their medication." (iANS/KB)
Want to go for a dental checkup but afraid due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic? Take heart, according to a small study SARS-CoV-2 infection risk at the dentist’s office is low. SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, spreads mainly through respiratory droplets, and dental procedures are known to produce an abundance of aerosols — leading to fears that flying saliva during a cleaning or a restorative procedure could make the dentist’s chair a high-transmission location.
Researchers from the Ohio State University in the US, set out to determine whether saliva is the main source of the spray, collecting samples from personnel, equipment, and other surfaces reached by aerosols during a range of dental checkup procedures.
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Among the 28 patients enrolled for the study, salivary bacteria were detected in condensate from only eight cases, and of those, five patients had not used a pre-procedural mouth rinse. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified in the saliva of 19 patients but was undetectable in aerosols in any of the cases.
Microbes from irrigants contributed to about 78 percent of the organisms in aerosols while saliva, if present, accounted for 0.1 percent to 1.2 percent of the microbes distributed around the room. By analyzing the genetic makeup of the organisms detected in those samples, the researchers determined that watery solution from irrigation tools, not saliva, was the main source of any bacteria or viruses present in the spatter and spurts from patients’ mouths.
Even when low levels of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were detected in the saliva of asymptomatic patients, the aerosols generated during their procedures showed no signs of the coronavirus. In essence, from a microbial standpoint, the contents of the spray mirrored what was in the office environment. The study was published in the Journal of Dental Research. “Getting your teeth cleaned does not increase your risk for Covid-19 infection any more than drinking a glass of water from the dentist’s office does,” said lead author Purnima Kumar, Professor of Periodontology at Ohio State.
“Hopefully this will set their mind at rest because when you do procedures, it is the water from the ultrasonic equipment that’s causing bacteria to be there. It’s not saliva. So the risk of spreading infection is not high,” she said. “However, we should not lose sight of the fact that this virus spreads through aerosol, and speaking, coughing or sneezing in the dental office can still carry a high risk of disease transmission,” Kumar said. (IANS/SP)
Murder, rape, and physical abuse are among the attacks that healthcare workers, the wounded, and the sick have been subjected to in the five years since the United Nations Security Council adopted its first resolution on the protection of health care in conflict zones and demanded an end to impunity for such attacks.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement Monday that “healthcare providers and patients have suffered through thousands of attacks on health care systems” since the resolution was adopted.
Medical facilities and medical transport vehicles have been looted and destroyed and health care services, such as vaccine campaigns, have also come under attack, the ICRC added.
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The ICRC counted 3,780 attacks per year in an average of 33 countries between 2016 and 2020, the aid organization said in a statement. Two-thirds of the attacks, ICRC said, occurred in Africa and the Middle East, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the occupied territories, and Syria. The count is likely higher than the ICRC tabulations, the organization said, because of the challenges of accumulating data in conflict zones.
The COVID pandemic has not slowed the attacks. The statement said between February and July 2020, ICRC “recorded 611 violent incidents against healthcare workers, patients and medical infrastructure associated with the COVID-19 response, about 50 percent higher than average.”
“There is a lack of political will and a crisis of imagination when it comes to protecting health-care providers and patients,” said Maciej Polkowski, the head of ICRC’s Health Care in Danger Initiative, which works to ensure safe access to health care in armed conflict and other emergencies. “States wishing to see this agenda advance should lead by example.”
Filippo Gatto, ICRC’s head nurse, who once had a militant shove an AK-47 in his face, said people need to understand that healthcare workers are “there to treat everyone and anyone, white, red, blue, government or not the government.” He added,” At a certain point it will also be your turn in need of medical care.” (VOA/KB)
Women who have gynecologic cancer and low income reported having more anxiety and financial distress during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study. For the study, Y. Stefanie Chen and her team from the Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City conducted telephonic interviews with 100 women with gynecologic cancer living in New York City who were covered by Medicaid health insurance.
They found that 50 percent of the patients reported feeling more financial stress since the start of the pandemic, while 54 percent said they worry about future financial problems due to the pandemic. Nearly 50 percent of patients expressed increased anxiety about cancer since the start of the pandemic, while 83 percent expressed feeling increased anxiety in general.
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Having an income of less than $40,000 per year was the most common factor associated with increased financial distress, cancer worry, and anxiety. Early-stage cancer (Stage I-II) was also a risk factor for increased financial distress. “Patients with cancer are already financially vulnerable as many face changes in employment status when they undergo treatment, and also because cancer treatments can become costly as they accrue over time,” said Chen.
“Patients with low income may struggle to prioritize cancer care and treatments over other costs of daily living, especially when they face changes in employment, not only due to their cancer diagnosis but also because of the changes in the job market caused by the pandemic,” Chen added. The findings have been published online in the peer-reviewed journal CANCER. Chen supports increased screening for anxiety and financial stress in these patients.
“Understanding the complexity of finances, mental health and cancer treatments in this population is crucial for the development of interventions and navigation strategies to ensure timely care and to promote survivorship among patients with all stages of cancer,” she said. (IANS/SP)