insecurity

medicine

Penn Medicine researchers find link between food insecurity and cardiovascular death risk

PHILADELPHIA–Food insecurity is one of the nation’s leading health and nutrition issues–about 13.7 million (10.5 percent) of households in the United States were food insecure at some time during 2019, a trend likely to increase in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to preliminary research conducted by researchers at Penn Medicine, increasing rates of food insecurity in counties across the United States are independently associated with an increase in cardiovascular death rates among adults between the ages of 20 and 64.

The large-scale, national study, which will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020, provides evidence of the link between food insecurity and increased risk of cardiovascular death. This is one of the first national analyses to evaluate changes in both food security and cardiovascular mortality over time, and to see if changes in food insecurity impact cardiovascular health. The findings were also published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

“This research gives us a better understanding of the connection between economic distress and cardiovascular disease,” said Sameed Khatana, MD, MPH, senior author of the study and instructor of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “What’s going on outside the clinic has significant impact on patients’ health. There are many factors beyond the medications we may be prescribing that can influence their wellbeing, food insecurity being one of them.”

Researchers analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Map the Meal Gap study, to examine county-level cardiovascular death rates and food insecurity rates from 2011 to 2017, among adults age 20 to 64, and those 65 years and older.

The researchers found that while the overall food insecurity rates for the entire country declined between 2011 and 2017, the counties that had the most increase in food insecurity levels had cardiovascular death rates that increased from 82 to 87 per 100,000 individuals. Additionally, for every 1 percent increase in food insecurity, there was a similar increase in cardiovascular mortality among non-elderly adults (0.83 percent).

“There has been a growing disparity when it comes to food insecurity, and this data demonstrates that parts of the country are being left behind. Unfortunately, this may only get worse as the country grapples with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Khatana said. “However, interventions that improve a community’s economic wellbeing could potentially lead to improved community cardiovascular health.”

The authors intend to study whether interventions that improve food insecurity can lead to better cardiovascular health.

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The abstract will be presented in Session QU.AOS.765 Social Determinants of Cardiovascular Health on November 13, 2020, at 9:00 am CST/10:00 am EST.

Penn co-authors include, Atheendar S. Venkataramani, Christina A. Roberto, Lauren A. Eberly, and Peter W. Groeneveld, along with Yale’s Stephen Y. Wang.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at

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health

Covid leaves some with medical bills, job insecurity, lingering isssues

Welcome to the Covid Economy, CNBC Make It’s deep dive into how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting all areas of our lives, from food to housing, health care to small business. We’re focusing on North Carolina, a swing state that has seen rapid economic growth — and growing inequality — since the last recession to learn how residents are weathering the economic consequences of this once-in-a-lifetime health crisis.

Ann only let her guard down for an afternoon. After months of being careful and following social distancing guidelines, she got together with a friend over the Fourth of July weekend. The next day, that friend let her know they were feeling sick. Four days after that, Ann began developing symptoms, too. 

An HR manager based in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, Ann, who agreed to speak to CNBC Make It on the condition that she be identified only by her middle name to protect her privacy, scheduled a Covid-19 test on July 15. She received a positive result two days later. 

It’s been more than four months, and Ann’s still struggling to fully recover from the virus. But it’s not just her health that’s been impacted. She’s had to take an unpaid leave of absence from work, and despite having health insurance, she’s worried about the mounting medical bills.

During the nearly three weeks that Ann suffered from the worst effects of Covid-19, she was mainly isolated at home. “There was an entire week that I had to lie on my stomach for hours just to breathe without a crushing pain in my chest,” Ann says. “The vomiting and diarrhea were so unyielding that one day I contemplated just sitting in the tub instead of going back and forth to the toilet.”

At one point, Ann’s symptoms were so serious, she did go to the emergency room. Fortunately, her hospital stay was short, and she never had to be put on a ventilator. But even after the worst of her symptoms passed, her life has yet to return to normal. One of the rising number of so-called “long haulers,” Ann is still feeling the ongoing effects of the virus. 

“It’s just so weird to me to be someone who is healthy and in their thirties to have something just completely ravage you so hard that it affects every organ in your body,” Ann says. 

Costs of Covid-19 vary dramatically and can go beyond just medical bills

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