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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt's Blog

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

New research suggests that having an underlying health condition might be one of the most significant risk factors for developing a severe case of COVID-19.

Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a look at a group of U.S. adult COVID-19 patients and found roughly three-quarters of those who wound up in the hospital had at least one underlying health issue.

For 457 patients who were admitted to intensive care, 78% had other health conditions, while 71% of 732 patients admitted to the hospital, but not intensive care, had at least one other health issue.

The mortality data showed an even stronger correlation: Among all hospitalized COVID-19 adult patients with complete information on underlying conditions or risk factors, 184 deaths occurred. Of those, 173 (94%) involved patients with at least one underlying condition, according to the CDC's COVID-19 Response Team, led by researcher Nancy Chow.

Those conditions include diseases that strike people of all ages, including asthma and diabetes, along with heart disease and lung disease.

Unfortunately, those very conditions are quite common among Americans, the researchers noted: In 2018, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among U.S. adults was just over 10%, while the prevalence of heart disease was 10.6% in 2017. Meanwhile, the prevalence of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) among U.S. adults was almost 6% and the prevalence of asthma among persons of all ages was nearly 8% in 2018.

The findings were published in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Underlying conditions can be a big player in COVID-19 severity, but many young adults mistakenly believe that only older people are affected by the coronavirus -- a misconception that puts themselves and others at risk, experts warned.

A growing number of 20- to 44-year-old Americans have been hospitalized for COVID-19.

While the rate of COVID-19 deaths is highest for those older than 85, the rate of confirmed cases is highest (29%) among 20- to 44-year-olds, according to the CDC.

People with elevated risk include those who have underlying health conditions such as chronic lung disease, diabetes or heart disease; are overweight; have a weakened immune system; are pregnant, or are older than 65.

High-risk people need to take social distancing seriously to avoid contracting the coronavirus, said Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at UT Health School of Public Health.

But everyone is at risk, including young people, Troisi emphasized.

Source: HealthDay

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.

University at Buffalo School of Nursing researchers have found a"significant association" between alcohol or marijuana use and insufficient sleep among high school students.

The study, published earlier this year in the Journal of School Nursing, tested a nationally represented sample of high school students and found a close association between using substances including cigarettes, electronic vapor, alcohol and marijuana, and experiencing insufficient sleep.

"Substance use, especially alcohol and marijuana use, may increase the risk of having insufficient sleep on school nights," says Misol Kwon, a Ph.D. student who was the lead researcher for the study, "Association Between Substance Use and Insufficient Sleep in U.S. High School Students."

The association between marijuana use and insufficient sleep is especially strong for male and younger students, according to Kwon.

"Younger students suffer more from insufficient sleep when using marijuana," she says.

"This is a major public health concern, as having insufficient sleep is associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes, increased risk of injuries and behavioral problems, including substance use and abuse," the study says.

Researchers also believe the relationship between substance abuse and insufficient sleep can be "bi-directional," meaning those with sleep disturbances also have higher risks of substance abuse.

"This can lead to a vicious cycle of increased risk of the worsening of health outcomes in adolescents," says Kwon.

Source: MedicalXpress

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

Rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are all on the rise among U.S. teens, a new study finds.

"We aren't sure why this is occurring, but it is clear from this evidence and other epidemiological studies that anxiety, depression and other internalizing problems are becoming more prevalent among adolescents relative to other types of mental health problems," study author Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, a professor in Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Mental Health, said in a Hopkins news release.

The researchers also found there's been a significant rise in the rates of teen girls seeking mental health care and their use of outpatient mental health services.

The researchers analyzed data on more than 230,000 teens collected between January 2005 and December 2018 in annual U.S. federal government health surveys.

Nearly 20% of the teens said they'd received counseling for mental health problems in the past year, and that rate didn't change significantly over the study period.

However, the rate of mental treatment or counseling among teen girls rose from an average of 22.8% in 2005-2006 to 25.4% in 2017-2018, an 11.4% increase, while the rate among boys fell from 17.8% to 16.4%, a 7.9% decrease. Most of the rate changes occurred after 2011-2012.

Meanwhile, rates of internalizing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thinking among teens rose from 48.3% in 2005-2006 to 57.8% in 2017-2018 -- a nearly 20% increase.

Among internalizing problems, suicidal thoughts or attempts increased the most, from 15% to 24.5% of the total, a 63.3% increase, according to the study published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: HealthDay