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The Latest on COVID-19

I am following the latest developments on COVID-19 and our efforts to control the pandemic. I will update this page regularly, so if you are interested, check back often.

Many Common Drugs Can Raise Blood Pressure

A very important new study of 27,599 adults, average age 47-50, showed that almost 15 percent of North American adults and almost 19 percent of those with high blood pressure take medications that can raise blood pressure. The blood-pressure-raising medicines taken most frequently were antidepressants, NSAIDs, steroids, and estrogens.

Less Salt, More Potassium to Help Prevent Heart Attacks

A review of six major studies that measured salt intake by the amount of salt in the urine found that a high salt intake is associated with significantly increased risk for suffering heart attacks and strokes. This review is extremely dependable because it measured salt intake directly by how much salt and potassium was secreted in a person’s urine each day, and did not depend on a patient's memory.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat and Prevent Prostate Cancer

Extensive data show that the typical western diet, obesity, and lack of exercise are associated with increased risk for prostate cancer. Recent studies now show that intense exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet help to reduce markers for prostate cancer progression in men who already have prostate cancer.

Blood Pressure is Often Higher in Wintertime

If you have high blood pressure in the winter, you are at increased risk for a heart attack, even if your blood pressure is normal in the summertime. Blood pressure is often higher in winter and lower in summer, and heart attacks are significantly more common in the winter than in the summer

Dangers of High Triglycerides

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has issued its latest recommendations for the treatment of fasting blood triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dL or non-fasting triglycerides greater than 175 mg/dL (J Am Coll Cardiol, Aug, 2021;78 (9): 960–993). Blood triglyceride levels are just as important as cholesterol levels in predicting your risk for heart attacks and diabetes. The new ACC recommendations emphasize lowering triglycerides with a diet that restricts refined carbohydrates (flour, extracted sugars, white rice and so forth).

New Guidelines on Aspirin for Heart Attack Prevention

Daily aspirin can help to prevent heart attacks, but the United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that: adults 60 years and older should not take aspirin to help prevent a first heart attack, and those 40-59 years old who are at high risk for heart disease should take aspirin only on their doctor’s recommendation

Overdiagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease

Older people may be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease because of their results on a routine blood test called eGFR (Estimated Glomular Filtration Rate) that is used to screen for kidney damage. This test is important because patients with kidney disease often have no symptoms until just before the kidneys fail. However, it is normal for people to lose some kidney function with aging.

The Latest on COVID-19: Archive

This post contains older entries in my summaries of research on COVID-19 vaccinations and other aspects of the epidemic since it began in late 2019. Newer entries can be found in the main post titled The Latest on COVID-19.

A Big Belly Increases Risk for a Heart Attack

Having excess fat in your liver is associated with increased risk for a heart attack. A review of 36 studies on 5,802,226 middle-aged individuals with 99,668 cases of heart attacks, in a median follow-up period of 6.5 years, found that those with fatty liver disease had 1.5 times the incidence of heart attacks as the general population.

Impotence Often Precedes a Heart Attack

Impotence often precedes a heart attack by three to five years. A review of the scientific literature found that men who are impotent have a 59 percent increased risk for heart attacks, a 34 percent increased risk for a stroke, and a 33 percent increased risk for dying from any cause. One study showed that impotent men were twice as likely to develop heart disease.

Stabilizing Plaques with Exercise and Possibly Statins

Heart attacks are not caused by plaques making arteries too narrow. They are caused by plaques suddenly breaking off from the inner lining of a heart artery, followed by bleeding, and then a clot forms that completely blocks all blood flow to a part of the heart muscle.

Get Your Flu Shot Now

This coming winter could be the worst flu season in years since last winter we had one of the lowest incidences of flu cases and deaths because of the isolation techniques, mask wearing and hand washing so many people used to try to prevent COVID-19 Since very few people will have natural immunity from getting the flu last winter, we can expect a marked increase in flu cases and deaths this year.

Does Ivermectin Treat COVID-19?

A review of 41 studies found no good evidence that ivermectin prevents or treats COVID-19 infections. No study compared ivermectin to an intervention with proven efficacy. Additionally, 31 studies are ongoing and 18 studies are awaiting classification until publication of results or clarification of inconsistencies.

Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes Increase Heart Attack Risk

One of the definitions of "pre-diabetes" is a high rise in blood sugar after meals, and people with pre-diabetes are at significantly increased risk for suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Suspected Carcinogens in Some Sunscreens

In May 2021, an independent testing lab, Valisure, found elevated levels of benzene, a suspected carcinogen, in some sunscreens. As a result, Johnson & Johnson recalled five kinds of Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen sprays, and CVS stopped selling some of its sunscreen products.

High Sugar Intake Associated with Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers at Rush University followed 837 patients with 19 different tests for memory and other brain functions. They found that higher consumption of foods and drinks with added sugars was associated with greater loss of ability to recognize objects and remember facts, and with greater risk for developing dementia.

How Your Diet Affects Your Blood Pressure

Extensive recent research shows that high blood pressure is associated with having specific harmful bacteria in your colon, and that reducing harmful colon bacteria and increasing healthful ones can help to control high blood pressure. You can do this primarily by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, as well as by exercising regularly, losing excess weight, and avoiding smoke and alcohol.

Masks Do Not Block Breathing

Researchers showed that “wearing a surgical face mask did not cause gas exchange abnormalities in healthy adults or even in adults with lung function impairment”. The authors measured carbon dioxide exchange and oxygen saturation before and after wearing a surgical mask in physicians with healthy lungs and in people with severe chronic obstructive lung disease.

Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle to Treat Arthritis and Many Other Diseases

Many types of arthritis are believed to be caused by inflammation, where a person’s own immune system attacks and damages joints and other tissues in the body. An anti-inflammatory diet may help to control arthritis ) as well as giving its well-established benefit of helping to prevent heart attacks.

Almost All U.S. COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Deaths Are Now In Unvaccinated People

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths shows that of more than 18,000 people who died from COVID-19 in May 2021, only 150 deaths occurred in fully vaccinated people. That's less than one percent.

Chronic Constipation May Need a Medical Workup

The first-line treatment for chronic constipation is to eat lots of foods that are full of fiber such as fruits and vegetables, to severely restrict processed foods, particularly those made from refined carbohydrates (bakery products, pastas and many dry breakfast cereals), and to exercise. If these lifestyle changes do not solve your problem, you may benefit temporarily by taking over-the-counter laxatives

Dementia May Be Preventable

The American Heart Association has published a scientific statement on “Harnessing Healthy Behaviors to Prevent Dementia” (Stroke, Mar 15, 2021:52(6A);52:e295–e308). They report that dementia is associated with the following modifiable risk factors: depression, all heart attack risk factors, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, an inflammatory diet, smoking, social isolation, excessive alcohol use, sleep disorders and hearing loss.

Arthritis and Colon Bacteria

A study of 1,388 women with hand arthritis, average age 61, showed that they had higher levels in their colons of the bacteria Bilophila and Desulfovibrio that try to invade their colon cells, as well as a lower level of the genus Roseburia that do not invade colon cells. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle has been shown to help grow healthful bacteria in your colon, which can help to treat arthritis.

Treating Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure with Diet

Type II Diabetes shortens lives by causing high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. Diabetics in the DIRECT study in Scotland, who followed a strict 800-calorie-per-day diet and lost a lot of weight, were also able to lower their high blood pressure.

Routine CT Scans Can Increase Cancer Risk

More than 80 million CT scans are done in the U.S. each year to help diagnose many medical conditions. In 2007, the National Cancer Institute predicted that 29,000 future cancer cases could be linked to the CT scans performed in the U.S. in that year alone, and doctors have ordered more CT scans every year since then.

High-Plant, Low-Salt Diet to Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure affects 108 million adults, increasing risk for heart attacks, the leading cause of death in the United States. A Harvard study of 412 adults found that a low-salt version of the DASH diet dramatically lowered both high blood pressure and markers of heart muscle damage in just four weeks

Jim Allison’s Nobel Prize: Toward a Cure for Cancer

In August 2015, the world learned that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s melanoma skin cancer had spread to his liver and his brain. Patients with melanoma that had spread through their bodies were expected to die from their disease, but doctors radiated Carter's tumors and then gave him Keytruda, a check point inhibitor. Three months later, there was no evidence of cancer in his 91-year old body.

Exercise to Treat Arthritis

If you have joint pains, you should still keep moving. There is increasing evidence that exercise can help to treat and prevent osteoarthritis of the hips and knees and even relieve some of the pain following hip and knee replacements Inactivity worsens arthritis by preventing joints from healing.

Risk Factors for Dementia and Heart Attacks Start Early in Life

Researchers in Finland followed 3,596 children (3-18) for 31 years to see whether cardiovascular risk factors in childhood and adolescence were associated with cognitive performance later in life. Cognitive testing was performed in 2,026 of the participants at 34-49 years of age, and the researchers found that early heart attack risk factors were also major risk factors for reduced mental function.