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Roundup: ‘CardioPulmonary’ Problems Dominate Long COVID Symptoms; These Pregnancy Complications Can Lead to Heart Disease Later; and More News


Many Adults Face Lingering Cough, Chest Pain and Fatigue Six Months After Initial COVID Hospitalization, Says New NIH-Supported Study

A significant majority, or 75 percent, of former patients initially hospitalized because of COVID-19 had at least one cardiopulmonary problem -- “such as cough or chest problems; swelling in their legs, ankles, and feet; or a need for home-oxygen support” -- six months after being discharged, according to a National Institutes of Health-supported study published in JAMA Network Open.

Overall, about half of adults treated at hospitals for COVID-19 have experienced lingering symptoms, financial difficulties, or physical limitations months after being discharged, stated the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a news release about the study.

“My clinic patients often want to know how soon they’ll get back to their usual health,” said Andrew J. Admon, M.D., M.P.H., the study’s first author, a pulmonologist at LTC Charles S. Kettles VA Medical Center, and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Based on these data, it seems that many people hospitalized for COVID-19 should expect symptoms to last for up to six months or even longer.”

Researchers reviewed data from the medical records and follow-up surveys of 825 adults who received treatment for COVID at one of 44 medical centers in the U.S., between August 2020 and July 2021. Patients were surveyed one, three, and six months after leaving the hospital for general or intensive care treatment.

More than half of patients, 51 percent, felt fatigued after six months, compared to 41 percent who did so after one month. Almost one in five adults, or 18 percent, felt tired every day. Some 47 percent of patients reported “limitations doing everyday activities, such as eating, preparing meals, bathing, getting dressed, or walking across a room” after six months. That represents an improvement compared to the first month after discharge when 55 percent of patients experienced such limitations.

More than half of patients, or 56 percent, said they experienced a financial difficulty such as being unable to pay bills after six months, compared to 66 percent who had problems after one month. “Hispanic and Black participants, as well as participants who reported financial difficulty at one month, were more likely to have experienced financial challenges during the sixth month,” the NIH stated.

“These findings will inform programs designed to help adults recover from severe cases of COVID and guide how physicians should check in with patients in the year following hospitalization,” said James P. Kiley, Ph.D., the director of the Division of Lung Diseases for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH, in a statement. “They may also help shape future clinical research studies.”

Five Major Pregnancy Complications Can Raise Long-term Risk of Heart Disease, Study Finds

Five major complications during pregnancy carry lifelong risks of developing ischemic heart disease, with the greatest risk coming in the decade after delivery, according to a new study published in The BMJ.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality among women in the United States and worldwide. Researchers focused on the following adverse pregnancy outcomes: Preterm delivery, small for gestational age infant, pre-eclampsia, other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and gestational diabetes. Previous studies have associated these complications with higher future risks of cardiovascular disease or traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

The study, conducted by Casey Crump, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, followed a cohort of more than 2 million women in Sweden with no history of heart disease. They gave birth between 1973 and 2015.

“Women with adverse pregnancy outcomes should be considered for early preventive evaluation and long-term risk reduction to help prevent the development of ischemic heart disease,” the study’s authors state.

Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease, refers to heart problems caused by narrowed heart (coronary) arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Narrowing can be caused by a blood clot or by constriction of the blood vessel, but most often it is caused by buildup of plaque, called atherosclerosis.

According to the study’s findings: A total of 667,774 (30.4%) of women experienced at least one adverse pregnancy outcome, and 181,783 (8.3%) experienced at least two adverse pregnancy outcomes (not necessarily in the same pregnancy). The most common adverse pregnancy outcomes were delivery of a small, for gestational age, infant (14.3% of women across all deliveries) and preterm delivery (8.8% of women).

“We hypothesized that women who experienced any of these five major adverse pregnancy outcomes would have long term increased risks of ischemic heart disease, and that such risks would be only partially explained by shared familial factors,” the researchers conclude.

Study: Long-Term Calorie Restrictions Appears to Slow Pace of Aging in Healthy Adults

Studies have found that restricting calories has proven to slow aging in animals. Now, new research has found that eating fewer calories appears to slow the pace of aging and increase longevity in healthy adults, according to a study published in the journal Nature Aging.

Researchers say it is the first of its kind "randomized controlled trial" led by the Columbia Aging Center at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York.  

“In worms, flies, and mice, calorie restriction can slow biological processes of aging and extend healthy lifespan,” said senior study author Daniel Belsky, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School and a scientist with Columbia’s Butler Aging Center, in a statement. “Our study aimed to test if calorie restriction also slows biological aging in humans.”

The CALERIE™ Phase-2 trial, funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the first to investigate the effects of long-term calorie restriction in healthy, non-obese humans.

 The trial randomized 220 healthy men and women at three sites in the U. S. "to a 25 percent calorie-restriction or normal diet (about 2,000 calories a day) for two years," said a news release on the study. CALERIE™ is an acronym for "Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy."

Researchers analyzed blood samples collected from participants at pre-intervention baseline and after 12- and 24-months of follow-ups. To measure biological aging, they analyzed methylation marks on DNA extracted from white blood cells. "DNA methylation marks are chemical tags on the DNA sequence that regulate the expression of genes and are known to change with aging," the researchers state.

"Our study found evidence that calorie restriction slowed the pace of aging in humans," stated," stated Calen Ryan, Ph.D., research scientist at Columbia’s Butler Aging Center and co-lead author of the study. “But calorie restriction is probably not for everyone. Our findings are important because they provide evidence from a randomized trial that slowing human aging may be possible. They also give us a sense of the kinds of effects we might look for in trials of interventions that could appeal to more people, like intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating.”

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