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.
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
Echosens, a high-technology company offering the FibroScan family of products, urges increased awareness of the rise of liver cancer rates, which have more than tripled since 1980, while death rates have more than doubled during this time. About 21,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary liver cancer each year—twice as common in men than in women. Risk factors include other liver diseases, including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD may be a key driver of increased cancer associated with obesity, while non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the fastest growing cause of liver cancer among transplant candidates.
“People with NAFLD have higher rates of several types of cancer, with the greatest increase seen for liver cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers,” says Jon Gingrich, CEO, Echosens North America. “Point-of-care examinations, monitoring and ongoing assessment of liver fat and stiffness as provided by FibroScan, a rapid, non-invasive point of care examination, can identify individuals who are asymptomatic and undiagnosed for liver damage.”
Researchers have found that liver cancer, NAFLD, hepatitis C and liver transplants are prevalent in 40-80% of people who have Type 2 diabetes and in 30-90% of people who are obese. Being overweight or obese is responsible for about 85% of fatty liver disease.
“Approximately 30,000 people die from liver cancer each year and these numbers have continued to rise in recent years,” says Lynn Gardner Seim, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, American Liver Foundation. “It is essential that patients at risk for liver cancer, including those who have previously been diagnosed with hepatitis C, NAFLD, NASH and other liver diseases, talk with their doctors and have a plan in place for getting screened.”
Traditional approaches to assessing liver health, such as liver biopsy and advanced radiological imaging, may not be cost effective nor accessible to the broader at-risk population. FibroScan directly measures physical properties of stiffness and fat liver to provide reproducible results and allow for both diagnosis and monitoring of liver stiffness and liver fat. It is also recognized worldwide as the reference for non-invasive liver diagnosis supported with more than 2,000 medical publications and 40 guideline recommendations.
Echosens, the developer of FibroScan®, is an innovative high-technology company offering a full range of products and services supporting physicians in their assessment and management of patients with chronic liver diseases. FibroScan is supported by over 2,500 peer-reviewed publications and examinations are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many insurance plans. For more information, please visit http://www.echosens.us and follow us on Twitter (@echosensNA).
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The country’s government has rolled out a flu vaccine campaign, concerned about the potential simultaneous spread of coronavirus and influenza.
At least 36 people have died after taking flu vaccinations since last Friday, including a 17-year-old. The average age of those who died was 74, according to the South Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
As of Friday, more than 14 million people had gotten the flu vaccine, of which 9.4 million were children, elderly, and pregnant women, according to the KDCA.
Ki Moran, a professor at South Korea’s National Cancer Centre, said the flu vaccine is known to cause serious side effects in one out of 10 million people.
In 2019, 227,000 people over the age of 65 died in South Korea, she added. That’s an average of 621 deaths a day, to put the recent figures into perspective.
The KDCA decided on Friday not to suspend the flu vaccinations. The vaccination expert committee will hold a meeting Saturday morning to review additional data, according to a KDCA statement.
Rare side effects
The KDCA’s Friday meeting came after rising scrutiny from experts and politicians.
On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for a thorough investigation into the deaths, citing public anxiety, according to a press release by the Health Ministry. He did not call for a halt to the vaccination campaign.
The Korean Medical Association, a coalition of 130,000 doctors, has urged the government to suspend the vaccination program for a week until they determined the cause of the deaths.
In a statement, the Korean Vaccine Society emphasized the importance of the flu vaccine, especially “for children, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases and low immune system.” The organization cited concerns about the possible spread of flu during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Experts globally are preparing for flu season in the middle of the pandemic. “This is a critical year for us to try to take flu as much off the table as we can,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with the AMA’s JAMA Network.
One reason is to decrease the strain on public health services and hospitals, which are bracing for a winter wave. Experts say it possible to get Covid-19 and the flu simultaneously — and, because flu symptoms look so similar to that of Covid-19, it will be impossible to rule out a coronavirus diagnosis without a test. That means a case of the flu can cause substantial disruption to work and school.
In South Korea, Covid-19 has infected 25,775 people and killed 457, according to Johns Hopkins University.
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s forensic agency has found no links between a teenage boy’s death and a flu shot he had taken, the Yonhap news agency reported, as 11 more people linked to the vaccination programme died, taking the toll to 36.
The 17-year-old was among the first reported to have died during a government campaign to vaccinate about 30 million of a population of 52 million to prevent coronavirus complications.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said it would hold a meeting with vaccination experts on Friday to review developments as the toll reached 36, up from 25 a day before, sparking calls from doctors and politicians for a halt to the programme.
Health authorities have refused to suspend the campaign citing a lack of evidence to suggest direct links between the deaths and the vaccines.
The National Forensic Service has conducted autopsies on some of the deceased and determined that the vaccine did not cause the 17-year-boy’s death, Yonhap said, citing police.
Both the forensic agency and police were not immediately reachable for comment.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun expressed condolences to the families of the deceased, calling for a thorough investigation to verify the exact cause of deaths.
“So far experts said there was low possibility that the shots and deaths were related but many citizens remain anxious,” he told a meeting.
At least 22 of the 25 confirmed cases, including the boy, received a free flu shot the government has allotted for about 19 million teenagers and senior citizens, while the other three paid for it. Seven of the nine people investigated had underlying conditions, the KDCA said.
The agency has not yet provided details about the 11 deaths reported overnight.
The rising death toll has fuelled debate about whether the programme should be suspended. The country’s largest grouping of doctors called for a halt until the safety of the vaccines is confirmed, while a major vaccine society said inoculation should continue as no relation to the deaths have been found.
ADVISED AGAINST SHOTS
Some local governments and district offices around the country have voluntarily advised residents against taking a flu shot or are considering suspending the programme.
The vaccine providers include domestic firms such as GC Pharma, SK Bioscience, Korea Vaccine and Boryung Biopharma Co Ltd, a unit of Boryung Pharm Co Ltd <003850.KS>, along with France’s Sanofi <SASY.PA>. They supply both the free programme and paid services.
Ten people received products from SK Bioscience, five each from Boryung and GC Pharma, four from Sanofi and one from Korea Vaccine. There were no details about the latest 11.
KDCA director Jeong Eun-kyeong said on Thursday that vaccines would continue to be supplied but the government might consider suspending some products that have identification numbers matching batches manufactured at the same plant on the same day if more people die using them. One batch consists of around 150,000 doses.
It was not immediately clear if any of the vaccines
For most of 2020, La Crosse’s nursing homes had lost no one to covid-19. In recent weeks, the county has recorded 19 deaths, most of them in long-term care facilities. Everyone who died was over 60. Fifteen of the victims were 80 or older. The spike offers a vivid illustration of the perils of pushing a herd-immunity strategy, as infections among younger people can fuel broader community outbreaks that ultimately kill some of the most vulnerable residents.
“It was the very thing we worried about, and it has happened,” Kabat said.
Local efforts to contain the outbreak have been hamstrung by a statewide campaign to block public health measures, including mask requirements and limits on taverns, he added. “Your first responsibility as a local government is really to protect the health and safety and welfare of your residents,” he said. “When you feel like that’s not happening and you have few tools or resources available to change that, it’s more than frustrating.”
As the number of coronavirus infections continue to soar in the upper Midwest, few places embody the nation’s divisions over how to tackle the pandemic better than Wisconsin. Even as the state’s weekly caseload has quadrupled in the past six weeks, bar owners and Republicans have thwarted some restrictions on public indoor gatherings, leaving public health professionals scrambling to contain the virus.
Wisconsin ranks fourth among states in daily reported cases per capita, with 59 per 100,000 residents. According to The Washington Post’s analysis of state health data, in the past week new daily reported cases have gone up more than 20 percent, hospitalizations have increased more than 26 percent and daily reported deaths have risen 22 percent.
In recent briefings, Wisconsin health secretary designee Andrea Palm said the state is doing worse than it was in March and April and has pleaded with residents to avoid going to bars and to practice social distancing.
“Wisconsin is in crisis, and we need to take this seriously,” Palm said last week.
Last week a judge in Wisconsin’s Sawyer County temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers (D) limiting crowds in bars, restaurants and other indoor spaces to 25 percent of capacity, though a judge in Barron County reinstated it Tuesday. The Tavern League of Wisconsin, which represents the state’s bars, argued it amounted to a “de facto closure.” In May, the state Supreme Court struck down Evers’s “Safer at Home” order after Republican lawmakers challenged it, and a conservative activist has just sued to block Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate.
Elizabeth Cogbill, who specializes in geriatrics and internal medicine in the Gundersen Health System, has been working 14-hour days since the pandemic began, staying late to talk to families who can no longer visit their elderly relatives.
Since June, Cogbill has been working with the county, other medical professionals and nursing home officials to curb coronavirus infections. They had managed to stifle several flare-ups without a death, until September.
In an interview, the 41-year-old doctor said that as the