Respiratory Care Currents

 Published: July 13, 2021

By: Debbie Bunch


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High-Resistance IMST Lowers Blood Pressure

The Journal of the American Heart Association published a new study that found that five minutes of high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) can lower blood pressure just as well as aerobic exercise or even some medications.

Investigators from the University of Colorado Boulder conducted the research. It involved 36 otherwise healthy adults age 50 to 79 who had above normal systolic blood pressure, defined as 120 millimeters of mercury or higher. Half of the participants did IMST for six weeks, while the other half followed a placebo protocol, which offered much lower resistance.

At six weeks, systolic blood pressure dropped by nine points in the IMST group, and even six weeks after the participants stopped doing IMST, most of the drop was maintained. In addition, a 45% improvement in vascular endothelial function was seen in the IMST participants as well, and markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were significantly lower.

The authors note the IMST participants completed 95% of the sessions, suggesting that this is a therapy people can stick with.

“We have identified a novel form of therapy that lowers blood pressure without giving people pharmacological compounds and with much higher adherence than aerobic exercise,” said senior author Doug Seals. “That’s noteworthy.”

While the study did not identify how IMST lowers blood pressure, the researchers suspect it prompts the cells thatline the blood vessels to produce more nitric oxide, enabling them to relax. The therapy will now be tested in a larger group of people, thanks to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) $4 million grant.

Youth Have No Protection from Long COVID

Even people under 30 who suffer a mild-to-moderate bout of COVID-19 that does not require hospitalization are at significant risk for long-COVID, report researchers from Norway who followed a group of such patients for six months. More than 50% were still suffering from symptoms like loss of smell and taste, fatigue, shortness of breath, impaired concentration, and memory problems at the six-month mark. The most common symptom among the group was fatigue, experienced by about 30%.

The investigators found a significant correlation between high antibody levels and these types of symptoms in the patients. Those with respiratory problems, for example, asthma or chronic lung disease, were also more likely to be adversely affected. People under age 16 were less affected by long-COVID than those over age 16.

The study was published by Nature Medicine.

Undiagnosed COVID Cases Common Early in Pandemic

According to researchers from the NIH, COVID-19 was infecting significantly more people early in the pandemic than the figures showed. Their study suggests for every diagnosed case, there were 4.8 additional cases that were not diagnosed.

The study is based on blood samples taken from a representative sample of people across the country, most of them collected between May 10 and July 31, 2020. Among the other findings —

  • The youngest participants — those between the ages of 18 and 44 — had the highest estimated seropositivity, at 5.9%.
  • Females had higher estimated seropositivity than in males, at 5.5% vs. 3.5%.
  • Participants living in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions had the highest rates, at 8.6% and 7.5%, respectively.
  • Participants living in the Midwest had the lowest rates, at 1.6%.
  • Urban participants had a higher estimated seropositivity compared with rural participants, 5.3% vs. 1.1%.
  • Black/African American respondents were found to have the highest estimated seropositivity rate at 14.2%, followed by Native American/Alaska Natives at 6.8%, Hispanics at 6.1%, white/Caucasians at 2.5%, and Asians at 2%.

“The estimate of COVID-19 cases in the United States in mid-July 2020, three million in a population of 330 million, should be revised upwards by almost 20 million when the percent of asymptomatic positive results is included,” said senior co-author Kaitlyn Sadtler, PhD, chief of the Section on Immunoengineering at the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. “This wide gap between the known cases at the time and these asymptomatic infections has implications not only for retrospectively understanding this pandemic but future pandemic preparedness.”


OSA in Childhood Ups Risk for Hypertension

Children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be at higher risk for hypertension when they get older, find researchers from Penn State College of Medicine who published their findings in JAMA Cardiology.

The study, supported by an NIH grant, looked at 421 kids between the ages of five and 12. All of the children underwent overnight polysomnography, and about 12% were diagnosed with OSA. The children were reevaluated eight years later when they were between 12 and 23 years old.

Those diagnosed with OSA at the beginning of the study and still had OSA in adolescence were found to be three times more likely to have high blood pressure. What’s more, they were more likely to have a form of high blood pressure called orthostatic hypertension, which occurs when standing up rapidly from a prone position and is considered a strong risk factor for heart disease in adulthood.

The researchers are considering a follow-up study on these young people to assess the long-term effect of OSA on cardiovascular health.

Employment Increases the Chances of Catching the Flu

Having a job increases a person’s risk of getting the flu.

That’s the take-home message from researchers at the University of Arkansas and elsewhere who looked at influenza prevalence in people who worked and those who didn’t. Overall, workers were 35.3% more likely to come down with the flu than those who did not work.

Where that person worked, and the industry they worked in made a big difference too. For example, people in sales were 40.5% more likely to get the flu than those who were farmers. People working in the education, health, and social services industry were 52.2% more likely to develop the flu than those who worked in the mining industry.

“The fact that contagion risk varies across occupations and industries opens the door for an assessment of nonpharmaceutical policies to combat contagion and possibly pandemics,” says study author Dongya “Don” Koh, an assistant professor of economics at the university. “In this sense, we think these results provide a basis for an organizational policy that both protects workers and optimizes production and efficiency.”

The research will appear in the Journal of Public Economics.

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Debbie Bunch

Debbie Bunch is an AARC contributor who writes feature articles, news stories, and other content for Newsroom, the AARC website, and associated emailed newsletters. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, photography, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Connect with Debbie by email or on AARConnect or LinkedIn.

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