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What We're Reading: Coronavirus-Related Heart Issues; Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes; Urging Smokers to Quit


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was linked with cardiovascaluar issues and cardiac arrest; African Americans were shown to have higher rates of infection and death due to COVID-19; health experts call for smokers to cease use and manufacturers to halt production.

Cardiovascular Issues Seen in Patients With COVID-19

According to an article published by Kaiser Health News, doctors have been reporting that in addition to the respiratory issues known to occur in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), many infected patients have also developed heart problems that subsequently led to cardiac arrest. Based on data from numerous affected regions, such as Italy, China, Washington, and New York, cardiac experts have started to believe that the virus can infect the heart muscle, with as many as 1 in 5 patients experiencing heart damage leading to heart failure and death, even in patients who show no signs of respiratory impairment.

African Americans Infected, Dying at Higher Rates

Cities and states tracking COVID-19 cases by race have shown that African Americans are disproportionately affected compared with other races, which has also led to a high mortality rate due to environmental, economic, and political factors that can weaken lungs and make immune systems vulnerable. ProPublica reported that while the CDC tracks outbreaks and typically releases detailed data on information related to age, race, and location, it has yet to release data on race. “COVID is just unmasking the deep disinvestment in our communities, the historical injustices and the impact of residential segregation,” said Camara Jones, MD, a family physician, epidemiologist, and visiting fellow at Harvard University. “This is the time to name racism as the cause of all of those things. The overrepresentation of people of color in poverty and white people in wealth is not just a happenstance.…It’s because we’re not valued.”

Health Experts Call to Cease Tobacco Use, Production

Health experts from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union) stressed in a statement today for smokers to quit their cigarette use and for manufacturers to stop producing and selling tobacco products amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reuters. Gan Quan, a public health specialist and director at the Union, noted that governments have a “moral imperative” to advise current smokers to cease use, with emerging evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicating that infected smokers, both past and present, comprised more than 25% of patients who needed mechanical ventilation, were admitted to an intensive care unit, or died.

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