HEALTHWISE (From Harvard Medical School)

  1. Statin Commonly Used Cholesterol Lowering Medicine:

Statin initiation in older U.S. veterans free from atherosclerotic CVD at baseline reduced the risk for CV and all-cause mortality, researchers found in a retrospective cohort study.

In this retrospective analysis, we found that the risk of dying from any cause was lower by 25% among veterans who were newly prescribed a statin compared with those who were not treated with statins, Ariela R. Orkaby, MD, MPH, geriatrician and researcher at the VA Boston Health Care System and in the division of aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told recently. “The risk of dying from a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke was lower by 20%. Secondarily, the risk of an overall cardiovascular event, including heart attacks, strokes, coronary bypass surgery or coronary catheterization, was 8% lower in those prescribed a statin compared with those who were not prescribed a statin.”

2. Psychological Distress and Loneliness Reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) introduced stressors to mental health, including loneliness stemming from social isolation, fear of contracting the disease, economic strain, and uncertainty about the future. In a national survey measuring symptoms of psychological distress and loneliness among US adults in April 2020, results were compared with national data from 2018.

The survey response rate was 70.4%, with a final sample of 1468 adults aged 18 years or older. In April 2020, 13.6% (95% CI, 11.1%-16.5%) of US adults reported symptoms of serious psychological distress, relative to 3.9% (95% CI, 3.6%-4.2%) in 2018 (Figure). Among the subgroups examined, in April 2020, symptoms of psychological distress were highest among young adults-aged 18 to 29 years (24.0% [95% CI, 16.3%-33.8%]), adults with household income of less than $35 000 per year (19.3% [95% CI, 14.2%- 25.6%]), and Hispanic adults (18.3% [95% CI, 11.2%-28.3%]).

The corresponding prevalence estimates for these 3 groups in 2018 were 3.7% (95% CI, 3.0%-4.6%), 7.9% (95% CI, 7.1%- 8.6%), and 4.4% (95% CI, 3.7%-5.4%), respectively. The lowest prevalence of serious psychological distress among the subgroups examined in April 2020 was observed in adults aged 55 years or older (7.3% [95% CI, 4.8%-10.9%]).

3. Do I have generalized anxiety disorder?

You’ll need your doctor’s help to know for sure, but while other types of anxiety disorders arise from particular situations, generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by debilitating worry and agitation about nothing in particular, or anything at all. People with generalized anxiety disorder tend to worry about everyday matters. They can’t shake the feeling that something bad will happen and they will not be prepared. They may worry about missing an appointment, losing a job, or having an accident. Some people even worry about worrying too much.

Physical symptoms are common too, and can include a racing heart, dry mouth, upset stomach, muscle tension, sweating, trembling, and irritability. These bodily expressions of anxiety can have a negative effect on physical health. For example, people with generalized anxiety disorder are at greater risk for heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

If you have generalized anxiety disorder, therapy — particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — can help. CBT helps people recognize when they are misinterpreting events, exaggerating difficulties, or making unnecessarily pessimistic assumptions, and offers new ways to respond to anxiety-provoking situations.

For some people, medications can be an important part of treatment. Commonly prescribed drugs include antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like Prozac or Zoloft), or dual serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (like Effexor or Cymbalta). These drugs take longer to work than the traditional anti-anxiety drugs, but also may provide greater symptom relief over time.