Posts tagged with "Stroke"

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause likely to last only a few days

April 14, 2021

On Tuesday morning, federal officials said they expected the recommended pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to last only a few day—and said it should not impact the United States’ vaccination goals, Roll Call reports.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced early on March 13 that the they were recommending a pause in Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations after six female patients out of the 6.8 million Americans who had received the vaccine to date reported the development of a rare type of blood clot six to 13 days after vaccination. The women were between the ages of 18 and 48.

The Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks, told reporters on a call that the pause is necessary to educate providers about the type of blood clot caused by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, called a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

Standard blood clot treatment does not work for this type of clot, which, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, occurs in the brain’s venous sinuses. Such a clot prevents blood from draining out of the brain. As a result, blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a hemorrhage—and leading tio a life-threatening stroke.

The experts warn that, if the standard course of treatment is followed for a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, it could cause further harm or even be fatal, Roll Call reports.

Marks said there is no known link to birth control or contraceptives. The only hypothesis health officials mentioned is that the adenovirus vaccine creates an extreme immune reaction in some people that causes platelet clots.

The CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is set to meet on Wednesday, March 14, to review these cases and discuss the potential significance.

CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat told reporters that anyone who was vaccinated with this one-shot vaccine a month ago or more should not worry. But anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in the past few weeks should watch for symptoms including severe headaches, leg pain, or abdominal pain that differs from typical post-vaccination symptoms.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said these reactions are extremely rare and should not deter Americans from getting vaccinated for COVID-19. The pause is due to regular safety monitoring, she said.

“The message to patients who haven’t been vaccinated is to continue to get vaccines that may still be available to them,” Woodcock said.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters the delay would not have a significant impact on the U.S. vaccination plan. The one-shot vaccines from Johnson & Johnson make up less than 5% of recorded shots in arms to date.

The U.S. has secured enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer to continue vaccinating 3 million people per day, Zients said. States and the federal government plan to work quickly to get anyone scheduled for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine rescheduled for a two-dose shot by Moderna or Pfizer.

The pause will immediately impact the places that receive vaccines directly from the federal government: retail pharmacies, community vaccination clinics, mobile vaccinations units and FEMA-run sites.

The move could shutter some mass vaccination sites. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is working with states to find other vaccines.

“FEMA is committed to helping the President’s goal to ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated can be. In alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, effective immediately FEMA will stop administering this vaccine at our pilot Community Vaccination Clinics, as well as via our Mobile Vaccine Units,” said Acting Administrator Bob Fenton in an emailed statement. “We are working with our state partners to determine the path forward and find alternative vaccine options for these sites.”

Georgia, North Carolina, and Colorado have reportedly shut vaccination sites because of adverse events experienced by people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Several states—including Maryland, New York, and Ohio—confirmed Tuesday morning that they would pause administering the vaccine.

Research contact: @rollcall

Nothing but a heartbreak: Bottling up emotions after a spouse dies increases risk of heart attack, stroke

February 10, 2020

Let those tears flow: After the loss of a spouse, a study conducted at Rice University in Houston suggests that it may be better for your health to fully “own” and express your emotions—particularly in the beginning, PsychCentral reports.

“There has been work focused on the link between emotion regulation and health after romantic breakups, which shows that distracting oneself from thoughts of the loss may be helpful,” said Dr. Christopher Fagundes, an associate professor of Psychology at Rice and the principal investigator for the grant that funded the study.

“However,” he told PsychCentral, the death of a spouse is a very different experience—because neither person initiated the separation or can attempt to repair the relationship.”

For the study, the researchers surveyed 99 grieving spouses to assess how they were coping with their loss. On a scale of 1 to 7, participants rated how closely they agreed with statements about certain coping mechanisms. (For example, they were asked to agree or disagree with the statement, “When I’m faced with a stressful situation, I make myself think about it in a way that helps me stay calm.”)

Meanwhile, the participants had their blood drawn so the researchers could measure the levels of inflammatory markers called cytokines.

“Bodily inflammation is linked to a host of negative health conditions, including serious cardiovascular issues like stroke and heart attack,” Fagundes said.

Overall, the results show that people who generally avoided expressing their emotions suffered more bodily inflammation than those who expressed their emotions freely.

“These findings really highlight the importance of acknowledging one’s emotions after the death of a spouse rather than bottling them up,” Fagundes said.

“The research also suggests that not all coping strategies are created equal, and that some strategies can backfire and have harmful effects; especially in populations experiencing particularly intense emotions in the face of significant life stressors, such as losing a loved one,” Dr. Richard Lopez, an assistant professor of Psychology at Bard College and lead author of the study told the news outlet.

In the future, the researchers plan to assess the traits of people who do not have considerable and prolonged physical and mental health problems at six months and 12 months following the death of a spouse.

The researchers say that expressing emotions immediately after the loss may promote better physical and mental health outcomes; however, after a certain amount of time has passed, if one is still doing so, it may reflect severe and prolonged mental and physical health problems, they said.

Research contact: @PsychCentral

The big chill: Low indoor temperatures are linked to higher blood pressure

March 5, 2019

If you are the one in your household who surreptitiously turns the heat down in order to save a little “cold cash,” think again. You soon could be paying the difference at the pharmacy.

It turns out that, while keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees (F) or lower during the daytime might reduce your financial burden, it could be straining your cardiovascular system. A recent study has linked cooler indoor temperatures to higher blood pressure.

According to a report by Study Finds, researchers at the University College London recently determined that for every one degree Celsius (1.8 degree Fahrenheit) decrease in indoor temperature, systolic blood pressure rises by an average of 0.48 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure jumps about 0.45 mmHg. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, whereas diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in between beats. A blood pressure under 120/80 mmHg is considered normal.

“Our research has helped to explain the higher rates of hypertension, as well as potential increases in deaths from stroke and heart disease, in the winter months, suggesting indoor temperatures should be taken more seriously in diagnosis and treatment decisions, and in public health messages,” notes senior author Dr. Stephen Jivraj, of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, in a media release, adding, “Among other diet and lifestyle changes people can make to reduce high blood pressure, our findings suggest that keeping homes a bit warmer could also be beneficial.”

For the study, Dr. Jivraj’s team, evaluated data from 4,659 participants in the Health Survey for England. Individuals completed questionnaires on their general health and lifestyle choices; then, nurses followed up on the questionnaire by visiting the participants in their homes to measure their blood pressure and take indoor temperature readings. They found that average blood pressure for residents in the coolest homes was 126.64/74.52, whereas those in the warmest homes averaged 121.12/70.51 mmHg.

Researchers had to account for other factors such as social deprivation and outdoor temperature to identify independent associations between blood pressure and indoor temperature. The effect was especially notable in people who were less physically active.

Though the authors didn’t pinpoint a temperature for a “warm enough home,” they do suggest that 21 degrees (C) or about 70 degrees (F), is ideal.

“We would suggest that clinicians take indoor temperature into consideration, as it could affect a diagnosis if someone has borderline hypertension, and people with cooler homes may also need higher doses of medications,” says co-author Hongde Zhao.

The study was published in the Journal of Hypertension.

Research contact: @uclnews

Both diet soda and sweetened fruit juice may increase stroke risk

February 19, 2019

Scientists are warning us that things don’t really go better with Diet Coke—or with your morning orange juice, for that matter.

New research finds that consuming diet sodas and artificially sweetened fruit juices may increase your risk for strokeespecially if you are a mature woman, CBS News reported on February 17.

In a study that tracked nearly 82,000 postmenopausal women, those who drank two or more diet drinks per day saw their overall stroke risk rise by 23%, compared with those who consumed diet drinks less than once a week.

Blocked arteries are often the main culprit, the network news outlet notes, with heavy diet drink consumption linked to a 31% greater risk for an ischemic stroke, which is triggered by a clot, the study findings showed.

Study author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani—a nutrition scientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City—acknowledged in an interview with CBS News that an “association does not imply causation.” But she stressed that the findings held up even after taking into account the nutritional value of each participant’s overall diet.

So, “we can’t assume these diet drinks are harmless, particularly when consumed at high levels,” Mossavar-Rahmani said.

“The take-home message is that these findings give us pause,” she added. “We need to do more research on why we are seeing these associations. What are the scientific mechanisms? Is there something about the artificial sweeteners, for example, that affects the bacteria in the gut and lead to health issues?”

Indeed, the American Heart Association (AHA) recently underscored the lack of sufficient research into the cardiovascular impact of diet sodas, CBS News points out. Until more work is done, the AHA says the jury remains out on whether artificially sweetened beverages do or do not hasten heart disease.

Women in the latest study were between 50 and 79 when they first enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative trial between 1993 and 1998.

Investigators tracked the general health of all the participants for an average of nearly 12 years. During that time—at the three-year mark—all the women were asked to indicate how frequently they consumed diet sodas and diet fruit drinks over a three-month period.

The researchers did not take note of which brands of artificially sweetened drinks the women drank, and so did not know which artificial sweeteners were being consumed, CBS News reports.

That said, nearly two-thirds of the women consumed diet sodas or drinks very infrequently, meaning less than once a week or never. Only about 5% were found to be “heavy” consumers of artificially sweetened drinks.

After taking into consideration a variety of stroke risk factors — including blood pressure status, smoking history and age — the study team concluded that heavy consumption of diet drinks did appear to be tied to cardiovascular risks in a number of ways.

For example, those women who drank two or more diet beverages a day saw their overall risk for developing heart disease increase by 29%. They also were 16% more likely to die prematurely from any cause.

Certain groups fared even worse: Among obese women and black women with no history of heart disease or diabetes, a diet drink habit pushed clot-driven stroke risk up by roughly twofold and fourfold, respectively, the researchers reported.

Whether or not the findings would apply to either men or younger women remains unclear, the study authors noted.

The findings were published online February 14 in the journal, Stroke.

A group representing the artificial sweetener industry offered the following response, CBS News noted:  “The contribution of reverse causality, meaning that individuals already at a greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular events chose low-calorie sweetened beverages, is very likely the cause of the associations presented by these researchers.”

Research contact: @CBSNews