HealthDay News — People with severe mental illness (SMI) have higher risks for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and mortality, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Lamiece Hassan, Ph.D., from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated COVID-19-related infection, hospitalization, and mortality among people with SMI participating in the UK Biobank cohort study. The analysis included data from 447,296 participants (schizophrenia/psychosis: 1,925 patients; bipolar disease: 1,483 patients; and major depressive disorder: 41,448 patients; plus 402,440 with no SMI) that was linked to health care and death records.

The researchers found higher odds of COVID-19 mortality among people with schizophrenia/psychosis (odds ratio [OR], 4.84), bipolar disease (OR, 3.76), and major depressive disorder (OR, 1.99) versus people with no SMI. Across all SMI groups, higher odds of infection and hospitalization were also seen, particularly among people with schizophrenia/psychosis (OR, 1.61 and 3.47, respectively) and bipolar disease (OR, 1.48 and 3.31, respectively). Mortality and hospitalization remained significantly higher among all SMI groups in fully adjusted models, while infection odds remained significantly higher only for major depressive disorder.


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“Only a proportion of these disparities were accounted for by preexisting demographic characteristics or comorbidities,” the authors write. “Vaccination and preventive measures should be prioritized in these particularly vulnerable groups.”


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Abstract/Full Text

Aggressive therapy to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) can prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) in asymptomatic atherosclerosis, according to study results presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology annual meeting, held online from May 26-29, 2021.

In this study, researchers used a coronary artery calcium scan to assess CVD risk in adults (N=156), based on the following factors: total coronary artery calcium score, duration of follow-up, and presence or absence of metabolic syndrome. Treatment with rosuvastatin 10 mg/day, ezetimibe 10 mg/day, and a low-cholesterol diet (<200 mg/day) was initiated in adults with a positive coronary artery calcium score.

Patients who did not have positive scores did not receive treatment but were followed for up to 5 years (mean follow-up, 38 months) for any CVD events.

Patients were divided into 2 groups based on their coronary artery calcium scan results; 97 patients had positive scores, and 59 had negative scores (ie, patients who had a zero-calcium score).

After following recommendations to lower LDL-C to less than 60 mg/dL, no CVD events occurred among the patients who had achieved the LDL-C goal (n=88), while 2 CVD events (myocardial infarctions) occurred among the patients who had not adhered to the prescribed intervention (n=9).

Among the patients with negative coronary artery calcium scores, no CVD events occurred during follow-up.

“The average cost for medical therapy was $161 per year, covered by most insurance programs,” the researchers noted. “This annual cost is far below the average direct costs of one cardiovascular event,” they concluded.

HealthDay News — In an effort to further lower lead levels in drinking water, the Biden administration on Thursday announced $2.9 billion in infrastructure bill funds for lead pipe removal and tighter lead limits.

The new, tougher limits to be imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are expected to be finalized by 2024 and would require the replacement of remaining lead drinking water pipes as quickly as possible, the White House said in a statement announcing the new plan.

“Over the past year, I have visited with and heard from communities in Chicago, Flint, Jackson, and many other areas that are impacted by lead in drinking water,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an agency statement. “These conversations have underscored the need to proactively remove lead service lines, especially in low-income communities. The science on lead is settled — there is no safe level of exposure and it is time to remove this risk to support thriving people and vibrant communities.”

In remarks made at the AFL-CIO Washington, D.C., headquarters on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris acknowledged the goal is lofty. “The challenge that we face is, without any question, great. Lead is built into our cities. It is laid under our roads and it is installed in our homes,” Harris said.


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Environmental advocates had mixed reactions to the 10-year plan.

“The top priority must be to require removal of all lead pipes within the decade and to set a strict at-the-tap standard, which is the only way to prevent another generation of kids from drinking water through what is essentially a lead straw,” Erik Olson, senior strategic director of health at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Associated Press. “Good intentions won’t be enough to get the job done.”

John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America, told the AP that the plans are “long overdue and an indispensable step toward securing safe water.” He also said the EPA should set a 10-year deadline to replace lead service lines, as New Jersey did in July.

Associated Press Article

Reference

Giannini J, Eaton P, Gonzales K, Fallahi I, Schade D. Prevention of cardiovascular events in asymptomatic individuals. Poster presented at: AACE Envision 2021; May 26-29, 2021; virtual. 

This article originally appeared on Endocrinology Advisor