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Leading Causes Of Death In The US: Where Does COVID-19 Stand?

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CORBEVAX, A New Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine, Could Be A Pandemic Game Changer Globally


Life expectancy in the U.S. decreased to 77.0 in 2020 from 78.8 years in 2019. In 2021, it fell even lower to 76. Though some diseases are more prevalent as Americans get older, it is important to be mindful of one’s health at any age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine of the ten leading causes of death in 2020 were the same as in the previous year. This means knowing the most prevalent causes may help people take preventive steps to avoid serious illness and untimely death.

Begin caring for your health by knowing the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.

Heart Disease

According to the CDC, heart disease was at the top of all causes of death in the U.S. in 2020, across races and ethnic backgrounds. It resulted in almost 700,000 deaths in the country that year – equivalent to one in every five deaths. This mortality rate has cost the country about $229 billion annually for health care services, medicines, and lost productivity from 2017 to 2018.

Coronary heart disease (CHD), the most common type of heart disease, resulted in the death of almost 400,000 people in the country in 2020. More than 20 million adults, or 7.2% of the population, aged 20 and older, reportedly had CHD.

One person had a heart attack every 40 seconds in the country. Two in ten deaths from CHD were in adults less than 65 years of age.

Cancer

America’s second leading cause of death was responsible for one of every four deaths in the U.S. in 2019, according to the latest data by the CDC. Over 600,000 U.S. residents died from cancer in 2020. For every 100,000 people, almost 500 new cancer cases got reported, and 146 died of cancer. In 2019, more than 1.7M new cancer cases got reported.

Of the top 10 cancers by rates of new cancer cases across all races and ethnicities, female breast cancer was at the top, with 264,121 new cases reported in 2019. It was followed by prostate cancer (224,733 new cases), lung and bronchus (221,097 new cases), and colon and rectum (142,462). In terms of cancers by rates of cancer deaths, lung and bronchus cancer resulted in the deaths of 34 people every 100,000 across all races and ethnicities.

COVID-19

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It resulted in 350,831 deaths in 2020. The highest seven-day average of reported deaths of all time was almost 4,000, according to a graph by the New York Times.

As of Sept. 8, 2022, the number of reported cases per day decreased significantly, with a national average of 90,000 cases reported per day.

The U.S. is continuously monitoring the emergence of new variants of the disease. The omicron variant could spread more easily than the delta variant and other previously known variants, according to the CDC. Data also suggested that reinfection is possible for those who have had the omicron variant, even if they have recovered from COVID-19. COVID vaccines are available to help prevent severe illness, hospitalization and even death. The CDC also mentioned that some monoclonal antiviral treatments are effective against the omicron variant.

Accidents (Unintentional Injuries)

The prevalence of accidents and unintentional injuries resulting in death was high in the U.S., responsible for over 200,000 deaths. This was equivalent to 61 deaths every 100,000. Of which, 13 deaths every 100,000 were due to unintentional falls. Another 13 of every 100,000 deaths, or 40,698 deaths, were due to motor vehicle traffic deaths. Unintentional poisoning also resulted in 87,404 deaths in the U.S.

There were almost 25M physical office visits for unintentional injuries, and almost 98M emergency department visits for unintentional injuries.

Stroke (Cerebrovascular Diseases)

The CDC’s 2020 data revealed that one in six deaths from cardiovascular disease was due to stroke. This was equivalent to one person having a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 3.5 minutes, there was a death attributed to a stroke.

The majority of strokes in the U.S. every year are first or new strokes. Almost 90% of all strokes are considered ischemic strokes, where blood flow to the brain gets blocked. The U.S. lost nearly $53 billion between 2017 and 2018 to costs associated with health care services, medicines, and lost productivity.

Since one in every three American adults having at least one of the leading causes of stroke, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and diabetes, Americans are at risk for stroke, according to the CDC.

In strokes that do not result in death, it may also be a leading cause of long-term disability. The risk of having a stroke varies with race and ethnicity. Though the risk for stroke increases as a person ages, strokes may occur at any age.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (COPD)

According to the National Health Interview Survey of 2019-2020, 5% of adults were diagnosed with COPD, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. The sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. resulted in 46.3 deaths per 100,000. Bronchitis (chronic and unspecified deaths) resulted in 457 deaths, while emphysema resulted in 7,425 deaths. Other chronic lower respiratory diseases (excluding asthma) resulted in almost 48 deaths in every 100,000 people.

Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the leading causes of death in America is Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. This progressive disease begins with mild memory loss and may lead to the loss of the ability to respond to the environment and carry on a conversation.

In 2020, almost 6M Americans were reported to have the disease. The risk of Alzheimer’s increases with age. Alzheimer’s in younger people exists, though uncommon. Scientists are still in the process of studying the full extent of Alzheimer’s. Experts believe that genetics may play a role in disease development. However, a healthy lifestyle may reduce one’s risk for the disease.

Warning signs include memory loss that disrupts daily life, trouble handling money and remembering to pay the bills, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, poor judgment, misplacing familiar items, inability to retrace one’s steps to find a missing item, and changes in behavior, mood or personality.

Diabetes

This chronic health condition affects how the body turns food into energy. A person diagnosed with diabetes cannot produce enough insulin in the body or use it efficiently. The production of insulin is the body’s response to blood sugar levels going up. Without enough insulin, too much sugar remains in the bloodstream, resulting in heart or kidney disease or vision loss.

Over 37M American adults have diabetes, with a fifth of them unaware of their health condition. There are three types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. About 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes — developing over many years. Diabetes is behind 102,188 deaths in the U.S., and it is currently incurable. The CDC recommended losing weight, eating healthy, and living an active lifestyle to manage diabetes.

Influenza And Pneumonia

The eighth leading causes of death in the U.S. are influenza and pneumonia, accounting for 53,544 deaths. Influenza is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus, while pneumonia is an inflammation or infection of the lungs. Though most cases of influenza, also known as the flu, never lead to pneumonia, those that do tend to be deadly, according to the American Lung Association. Flu is one of the most severe illnesses in winter.

Around 6,062 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia were reported in California in 2020; at the same time, 4,756 deaths were reported in New York.

There are protective vaccines against flu and pneumonia. However, no flu vaccine is 100% effective since flu strains change every year.

Nephritis, Nephrotic Syndrome And Nephrosis

The National Kidney Foundation defines nephrotic syndrome or nephrosis as the condition when the kidneys start losing large amounts of protein in the urine. A worsening condition results in salt and fluid build-up in the body, leading to swelling or edema, high blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels. This condition may arise from kidney diseases or other diseases such as diabetes or lupus. Nephritis or nephrotic syndrome may also be referred to as glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases injuring the glomeruli – the part of the kidney that filters blood.

According to the National Health Interview Survey of 2018, 6M adults aged 19 and above have been diagnosed with kidney disease. The number of deaths attributed to nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis is 52,547, translating to about 16 Americans per 100,000 population.

In 2010, nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis accounted for 16.3 deaths per 100,000 population, the highest since 1999, according to Statista. In 1999, it accounted for 12.7 deaths per 100,000.





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Farts, Poop And Pee: An AI Will Listen To These Sounds And Detect Abnormalities

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Farts, Poop And Pee: An AI Will Listen To These Sounds And Detect Abnormalities


Scientists have created a machine that will listen to your farts, pee, and poop. Yes, that’s right. The machine will recognize and analyze the sound of each bathroom-related activity.

The scientists have cleverly named the machine Synthetic Human Acoustic Reproduction Testing machine (S.H.A.R.T.). It is a mechanical device fitted with pumps, nozzles, and tubes. The contraptions are meant to recreate the physics and sound of human bodily functions.

The creators of the S.H.A.R.T. machine presented their work at the American Physical Society’s annual Fluid Dynamics conference. Their results are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Scientists are training AI to detect and scrutinize scatological sounds so that it can one day help in diagnosing deadly diseases like cholera and nip a potential outbreak in the bud.

“There’s an outbreak and resurgence in Haiti  as we speak,” Maia Gatlin, an aerospace engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), said at the presentation, reported Inverse. Faster detection of cases will help curb outbreaks like these, Gatlin added.

The researchers want to use the AI model in tandem with relatively cheap sensors and put them to use in vulnerable regions.

“And as we classify those events, we can start to collect that data,” Gatlin said. “It can say, ‘Hey we’re seeing an outbreak of lots of diarrhea.’ Then we can start to quickly diagnose what’s going on in an area.’”

Sounds are a non-invasive way to remotely analyze bowel conditions. “Self-reporting is not very reliable,” David Ancalle, a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech, said, according to the outlet. “We’re trying to find a non-invasive way where people can get a notification on whether or not they should go get checked out. Like ‘Hey, your urine is not flowing at the rate that it should. Your farts are not sounding the way they should. You should check it out.’”

The AI was fed publicly available audio and video of excretions, with frequency spectrum captured of each one of them. The AI was then ready for SHART machine testing.

SHART played out different sounds of human outputs with the help of water pumped through the machine. “A lot of thought went into each of the sounds,” Gatlin said. “There was a subsystem for each sound on this little machine.”

“It actually performs pretty well,” Gaitlin continued.

The AI was able to successfully identify the correct “excretion event” with 98 percent accuracy, according to early data.

The scientists are adamant that they want their work to be budget-friendly for everyone.

“We’re not trying to come up with million-dollar equipment,” Ancalle said. “We are trying to make this something that can be afforded by just everyone, particularly since the project is focused on urban areas with weak health systems. The affordability aspect is very important for us.”

 

 





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Women, Individuals With High BMI May Face Greater Risk Of Long COVID: Study

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Research Dispels Myth That COVID-19 Vaccines Cause Infertility, But Misinformation Persists


OVID-19 continues to haunt some patients, with many suffering from so-called long COVID. Women and those with high body mass index (BMI) may be at higher risk for the condition, a new study has found.

For their study, published Wednesday on PLOS Global Public Health, a team of researchers conducted a survey to “characterize the burden and predictors” for long COVID.

Long COVID, also known as post-COVID syndrome, is the condition wherein the symptoms patients develop during or after a COVID-19 infection persist for over 12 weeks after being diagnosed with it. Symptoms may range from coughing, fatigue and breathlessness to brain fog, tinnitus and chest pain.

“Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 syndrome is estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 836,000 people in the United Kingdom according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics, UK) report, with 244,000 saying their ability to undertake day-to-day activities had been ‘limited a lot,'” the researchers wrote.

To shed further light on the condition and potentially inform healthcare services, the researchers surveyed people in Norfolk, East England U.K. who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020. In total, some 1,487 people participated in the survey, wherein they answered queries about pre- and post-COVID conditions such as breathlessness, loss of taste or smell, and their use of healthcare services related to long COVID.

“We wanted to find out what factors might make people more or less susceptible to developing long COVID,” one of the study authors, Vassilios Vassiliou of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, said in the university’s news release.

Of all the participants, 774, or 52.1% experienced long COVID. What’s interesting, however, is that more women had the symptoms compared to men, with the male sex appearing to be “protective of post-COVID symptoms” compared to the female sex.

Having a higher BMI was also associated with higher risks of developing long COVID.

“It was found that female sex and high BMI are associated with higher likelihood of developing post-COVID19 syndrome,” the researchers wrote. “Those two factors have a significant predictive value in the use of further health services among those diagnosed with post-COVID19 syndrome.”

The results, they say, are in line with another previous research in England, wherein females were also found to have higher long COVID rates than males.

This sheds further light on the condition that many continue to suffer from. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for instance, long COVID has also been more often observed in some people such as those who had severe COVID-19, while those who weren’t vaccinated for COVID-19 may also face higher risks for it.

The impact of long COVID may go beyond just the patients, too, as an expert pointed out that it may also have a $3.7 trillion impact on the U.S. economy. Hence, the results of this study provide valuable information about long COVID and the people who are most likely to suffer from it.

“We hope that our work will help policymakers plan local services and also inform the wider public of the scale of the long COVID pandemic,” Vassiliou said, as per UEA.

“Our academic colleagues at the University of East Anglia have really helped local health and care organizations to identify local patients at risk of long COVID, helping us to do all we can to support them on their recovery journey,” another study author, Mark Lim, added.





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Scientists Find Differences In Brain Structure Of Older People With Better Cognitive Abilities

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Scientists Find Differences In Brain Structure Of Older People With Better Cognitive Abilities


An insightful study analyzing what contributes to the sharpness of mind in old age has found evolutionary hints.

The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed Chinese journal Science Bulletin, found that more developed frontal lobes were associated with sharp minds in some old people. The reason behind this occurrence may be attributed to natural selection in human evolution.

“Our team initiated the Beijing Ageing Brain Rejuvenation Initiative in 2008, which focused on elderly people with cognitive impairment because they needed more attention. But during our community-based research, we found there was a group of elderly people who aged more slowly and had a higher quality of life,” Chen Yaojing, study corresponding author and a researcher at Beijing Normal University, said, reported South China Morning Post. “We want to learn from them and find out ways to keep our brain in a healthier state.”

It was found during the study that people who had successful cognitive aging (SCA) had a better preserved frontal region of the brain. Meanwhile, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) exhibited structural deterioration in the temporal region of the brain.

The authors put forward a “frontal preservation, temporal impairment (FPTI)” hypothesis to provide an explanation for the differences in individuals’ cognitive aging.

The frontal lobes are associated with cognitive functions, such as decision-making, problem-solving, and attention. Interestingly, the frontal lobes are one of the main features that separate human beings and animals. The frontal lobes are proportionally larger in humans than in other species of animals.

Chen said the human frontal lobe was the most recent one to evolve and it exhibited age-related decline faster than other abilities.

“There’s a theory called ‘last in, first out’. The newest part in evolution will decline first because human beings tend to save their survival abilities to the end,” Chen said. “So, for most elderly people, the functions of their frontal lobes decline early. But for people with successful cognitive aging, their frontal lobes are preserved well.”

The temporal lobes are responsible for processing auditory information and preserving memory. Structural abnormalities in this region have been associated with pathological cognitive aging, according to researchers.

Three groups of older adults aged between 70 and 88 were recruited for the study. These included 64 successful cognitive aging individuals, 68 mild cognitive impairment patients, and 66 cognitively normal controls.

For the study, Chen and her colleagues analyzed gray matter volume, gray matter networks, and white matter network characteristics of the three groups.

Compared to the other two groups, the SCA group performed better on all three parameters.

“If our hypothesis is proven true, in the future we can develop the frontal lobes or slow the aging of temporal lobes,” Chen concluded. “This is a multidisciplinary effort.”





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