Roundup: Heart-Failure Deaths Rising; ‘Severe Obesity’ in Kids; and Update on Vaping Illnesses

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November 1, 2019


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Deaths from Heart Failure Rising, Especially in Those 65 and Older, Study Says

As the portion of the population age 65 and older is increasing so is the death rate from heart failure, according to a new study publiched this week in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

Between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2017, the number of deaths increased by 8.5 percent for heart disease and 38 percent for heart failure, most of which were in the 65 years and older age group, the researchers found.

“Heart failure” refers to a condition in which the heart is too weak to pump blood through the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped beating. The heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met.

The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed by buildups of fatty deposits called plaque.

“With the population of adults aged 65 years and older projected to increase an additional 44 percent from 2017 to 2030, innovative and effective approaches to prevent and treat heart disease are needed,” the study concluded.

An estimated 6.2 million Americans suffer from heart failure. The American Heart Association projects that more than 8 million will have the condition by 2030.

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More Obese Kids Should Get Weight-Loss Surgery, Doctors Urge

Severe obesity among youth is an “epidemic within an epidemic” and signals a shortened life expectancy for today’s children — compared with those of their parents’ generation, according to a new report and policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The AAP is calling for greater access to metabolic and bariatric surgery, one of the few strategies that has been shown to be effective in treating the most severe forms of the chronic disease.

Severe obesity has outpaced less severe forms of childhood obesity, says the report pubished in Pedatrics, the official journal of the AAP. However, “recent evidence shows that surgical treatment is safe and effective, but it is widely underutilized,” the AAP states.

“While lifestyle changes remain the mainstay of treatment, medical care is unlikely to significantly change the trajectory for most children with severe obesity,” said pediatrician Sarah Armstrong, M.D., lead author of the policy statement and a member of the Executive Committee of the AAP Section on Obesity. “Children with severe obesity develop health problems earlier than those with lesser degrees of obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, and sleep apnea.”

In children and adolescents with less severe forms of obesity, lifestyle modifications have shown moderate success, pediatricians say. But lifestyle changes focusing on diet and exercise have not worked as well for young people with severe obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of at least 120 percent of the 95th percentile for age and sex, which equals 35kg/m2 or greater. A child’s weight status is determined by using an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI, rather than the BMI categories used for adults.

Recent data taken fromthe National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found the prevalence of severe obesity in youth at 7.9 percent. Among 12- to 15-year-olds, 9.7 percent have severe obesity, and among 16- to 19-year olds, it’s 14 percent. This is roughly double the prevalence in 1999.

Adds Dr. Armstrong: “The last decade of evidence has shown surgery is safe and effective when performed in high-quality centers, with the primary care pediatrician and family in a shared decision-making process.”

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CDC Expands Warnings Against Using e-Cigarettes or ‘Vaping’ Products

U.S. health officials said this week that there have been 1,888 confirmed cases of lung illnesses nationwide associated with vaping, and 37 deaths. A majority of the illnesses have been linked to vaping cannabis products, though some cases have been tied to the more widely available nicotine e-cigarettes, officials said.

The use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products in the three months preceding symptom onset was reported by 86 percent of patients, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on data collected on Oct. 15. Current users of vaping products are being urged to stop using them. Moreover, persons who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, the agency said.

No single vaping product or ingredient has been singled out as the cause behind the wave of lung illnesses and deaths that the CDC has labeled EVALI. The median age of EVALI patients who survived was 23 years, and the median age of EVALI patients who died was 45 years, the CDC said.

The agency issued the following statement. “CDC recommends that persons should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products containing THC. Because the specific compound or ingredient causing EVALI is not known, persons should consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”

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