Smoking Ups the Risk for Respiratory Infections
Looking for reasons to quick smoking? Here’s another good one: smoking significantly increases your risk for a viral respiratory infection, possibly even COVID-19.
University of California Davis researchers reached that conclusion after looking at data from the British Cold Study, a challenge trial that took place between 1986 and 1989. In the study, 399 healthy adults were exposed to one of five common cold viruses, including a common coronavirus that existed prior to SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers calculated the risk for infection among smokers and nonsmokers taking part in the research. Results showed people who smoked had a 12% increased risk of a laboratory-confirmed viral infection and a 48% increased risk of being diagnosed with a respiratory illness. The finding held true across virus types.
“Past research has shown that smoking increases the risk of COVID-19 disease severity, but the risk of infection had been less clear,” said UC Davis tobacco researcher and lead author of the study Melanie Dove. “Our study findings show smokers have an increased risk of viral infection, including a coronavirus and respiratory illness.”
The study was published by Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Read More
Medication May Treat OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be effectively treated with CPAP, but getting patients to adhere to the treatment can be an uphill battle. What if people could just take a medication instead?
According to researchers from Australia, that might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Building on a previous study that found the drugs reboxetine and oxybutynin could be effective against OSA but had significant side effects, they decided to see if reboxetine alone would have a similar effect.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, multicenter crossover trial involved 16 people who had OSA. Single doses of reboxetine were compared to a combination of reboxetine and oxybutynin or a placebo.
Results showed reboxetine was able to reduce the number of apnea events per hour, and it also improved oxygen levels. The addition of oxybutynin didn’t lead to additional improvements.
“The current gold-standard treatment of sleep apnea is with a CPAP device during sleep. But this one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t address the fact that there are different causes for sleep apnea. In addition, many people can’t tolerate CPAP in the long term,” said Dr. Thomas Altree. “It’s therefore important we discover other avenues to assist people, and this study provides an important step for future drug development.”
The study was published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Read More
Fully Vaccinated COVID-19 Patients on Invasive Ventilation More Likely to Survive
A new study in JAMA Open Network involving 265 people who required invasive ventilation for a severe case of COVID-19 has found lower mortality rates for those who were fully vaccinated.
The study, which was conducted by Greek investigators, took place between June 7, 2021 and February 1, 2022. Patients were divided into fully vaccinated and unvaccinated or partially vaccinated groups.
Overall, patients in the fully vaccinated group were older and more likely to have comorbid conditions, including malignant neoplasm. Still, after adjusting for these confounding factors, fewer of them died from COVID-19, 61.5% vs. 68.2%.
“In this cohort study, full vaccination status was associated with lower mortality compared with controls, which suggests that vaccination might be beneficial even among patients who were intubated owing to COVID-19-related ARDS,” concluded the authors. “These results may inform discussions with families about prognosis.” Read More
New Tool Predicts Asthma in Children
Canadian investigators have found that a new symptom-based screening tool can help primary care physicians identify children as young as two who are at risk for developing asthma.
The tool, called the CHILDhood Asthma Risk Tool, or CHART, was developed by a team working with the CHILD Cohort Study in Canada. It’s an initiative that began in 2008, tracking nearly 3,500 Canadian infants and their families to uncover the root causes of chronic diseases such as asthma, allergies, and obesity.
In this study, CHART was applied to data from 2,354 children taking part in the larger trial. By assessing wheezing and coughing episodes, the use of asthma medications, and related hospital visits at age three, CHART predicted which children would have persistent wheezing at age five with 91% accuracy.
Fifty percent of those children ended up with a physician diagnosis of asthma by age five.
“With information that can be easily gathered, CHART could be incorporated into electronic medical records as a routine assessment,” said study author Ruixue (Vera) Dai, MSc. “These kids can then be evaluated more closely, their conditions treated and managed better, and many hospitalizations can be avoided.”
The study was published by JAMA. Read More
Heart Disease Risk Factors Play Bigger Role in COVID-19 Mortality
Researchers have been looking for risk factors for severe COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and heart disease has been on the list.
Researchers from Michigan Medicine, who analyzed outcomes for more than 5,100 people who were admitted to the ICU for the treatment of COVID-19 at 68 hospitals across the U.S., believe the risk factors for heart disease are more important.
The study identified 1,174 patients who had either preexisting coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or atrial fibrillation, and those patients did have a nearly 30% higher mortality rate. But when that finding was adjusted to take risk factors like age, sex, race, smoking, and others into account, it was no longer significant.
“The fact that the association between cardiovascular disease and death was so heavily diminished when accounting for comorbidities suggests that cardiovascular risk factors rather than preexisting heart disease are the main contributors to in-hospital death in patients with severe COVID-19,” said senior author Salim Hayek, MD.
The study was published by Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Read More
A New Oxygen Delivery Method?
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital may have discovered a new oxygen delivery method. Their innovative technology allows them to engineer cells to make the oxygen they need on demand in response to an added chemical.
The work came out of a laboratory focusing on mitochondria, which produce energy inside cells and require oxygen to get the job done. The investigators developed the idea for a genetically coded system that could be deployed within the cells to allow them to produce their own oxygen whenever it is needed.
The technology — called SNORCL, for SupplemeNtal Oxygen Released from ChLorite — involves simultaneously expressing a transporter and a bacterial enzyme within a cell, which together promote the uptake of chlorite into the cell and enzymatically converts it into oxygen and chloride.
“In the near-term, SNORCL is really for the research arena, for evaluating the role of oxygen in signaling, metabolism, and physiology in great detail,” said study author Vamsi K. Mootha, MD. “But then, in the future, technologies based on SNORCL could have a variety of clinical uses.”
The research appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read More
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