Although Covid primarily targets lungs and is majorly a respiratory disease, the virus affects nearly all organs in the human body, including the liver.
A recent study led by scientists at University of Tennessee showed that up to 11 per cent of patients with Covid-19 have liver co-morbidities. And 14 per cent to 53 per cent show increased levels of liver enzymes - such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) during the progression of the illness. Increased levels of liver enzymes can mean that a person's liver is at least temporarily damaged.
Some patients have very severe injury in the liver due to Covid. The most common are swelling in the liver, jaundice which means yellow discolouration of eyes and urine and derailment of liver function tests.
"It is commonly seen that nonspecific inflammation due to Covid is very common in the liver and manifests in various forms," Dr Shubham Vatsya, Consultant - Gastroenterology at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, told IANS.
"A wide range of liver injuries seen in Covid infection can be completely asymptomatic. It can cause jaundice or it can cause liver failure," added Dr Jatin Agrawal, Associate Consultant, Gastroenterology. Max Hospital, Saket.
Further, people with cirrhosis (liver scarring) may be at increased risk of Covid-19. Some studies have also shown that people with pre-existing liver disease such as chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, or related complications who were diagnosed with Covid-19 are at higher risk of death than people without pre-existing liver disease.
According to Vatsya, "liver function involvement is seen with the original Covid-19 as well as the newer variants like Omicron. And vaccines have not been able to prevent the injuries related to Covid with the liver". "Preventing the Covid infection can help prevent an injury to the liver," Agrawal told IANS.
While vaccines can reduce the severity of the Covid infection, data on whether they can prevent an injury to the liver is "very scarce", he said. Agrawal said there are multiple ways viruses affect the liver and its functioning.
"One is the direct effect of the virus on hepatocytes chief functional cells of the liver and cholangiocytes (epithelial cells of the bile duct) via the ACE2 receptor, another is drug-related. Covid storm and sepsis also affect the liver," he said.
So the most important thing for prevention is "proper nutrition, intake of a high protein diet, which includes eggs, green leafy vegetables, paneer, that would help you maintain your immunity and it is a very important metabolite for the liver as well", Vatsya said.
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Long term exposure to ambient air pollution may heighten the risk of Covid-19 infection, suggests research.
The study, published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that both Particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 were significantly associated with an increased Covid-19 infection rate.
Every 1 microgram/cubic metre increase in long term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with a 5 per cent increase in the number of new cases of Covid-19 infection, equivalent to 294 extra cases per 100,000 of the population/year.
"Our findings provide the first solid empirical evidence for the hypothesised pathway linking long-term exposure to air pollution with the incidence of Covid-19, and deserve future generalisation in different contexts," said Giovanni Veronesi from the Department of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Insubria, Italy.
"Meanwhile, government efforts to further reduce air pollution levels can help to mitigate the public health burden of Covid-19," Veronesi added. While population density wasn't associated with a heightened risk of infection, living in a residential care home was associated with a more than 10-fold heightened risk of the infection.
The associations were even more noticeable among older age groups, indicating a stronger effect of pollutants on the Covid-19 infection rate among 55-64 and 65-74-year-olds. However, as this is an observational study, and as such, can't establish the cause, they said.
But long term exposure to air pollution also heightens the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases through persistent inflammation and compromised immunity. These same pathways may therefore be involved in the link between air pollution and higher Covid-19 infection rates, the researchers noted.
Further, drug treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure, and obstructive airway diseases, as well as a history of stroke were also associated with, respectively, a 17 per cent, 12 per cent, 17 per cent, and 29 per cent, heightened risk.
For the study, the team looked at long term exposure to airborne pollutants and patterns of Covid-19 infection from the start of the pandemic to March 2021 among the residents of Varese, the eighth-largest city in Lombardy - worst affected region in terms of both cases and deaths due to Covid.
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London- People with higher levels of T-cells from common cold coronaviruses are less likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to new research. The study, by Imperial College London researchers, provides the first evidence of a protective role for these T-cells.
While previous studies have shown that T-cells induced by other coronaviruses can recognise SARS-CoV-2, the new study, published in Nature Communications, examines for the first time how the presence of these T-cells at the time of SARS-CoV-2 exposure influences whether someone becomes infected.
The researchers also stated their findings provide a blueprint for a second-generation, universal vaccine that could prevent infection from current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron.
"Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn't always result in infection, and we've been keen to understand why. We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against Covid-19 infection," said Dr Rhia Kundu, from Imperial's National Heart and Lung Institute.
"While this is an important discovery, it is only one form of protection, and I would stress that no one should rely on this alone. Instead, the best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 is to be fully vaccinated, including getting your booster dose," she added.
The study included 52 people who lived with someone with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and who had therefore been exposed to the virus. The participants did PCR tests at the outset and 4 and 7 days later, to determine if they developed an infection.
Blood samples from the 52 participants were taken within 1-6 days of them being exposed to the virus. This enabled the researchers to analyse the levels of pre-existing T-cells induced by previous common cold coronavirus infections that also cross-recognise proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The researchers found that there were significantly higher levels of these cross-reactive T-cells in the 26 people who did not become infected, compared to the 26 people who did become infected. These T-cells targeted internal proteins within the SARS-CoV-2 virus, rather than the spike protein on the surface of the virus, to protect against infection.
Current vaccines do not induce an immune response to these internal proteins. The researchers said that - alongside our existing effective spike protein-targeting vaccines - these internal proteins offer a new vaccine target that could provide long-lasting protection because T-cell responses persist longer than antibody responses which wane within a few months of vaccination.
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The Omicron variant of coronavirus is not a common cold and should not be underestimated, NITI Aayog's Member, Health, Dr V.K. Paul said on Wednesday, noting it is the reseaon behind the collapse of health infrastructure in several countries.
"Omicron is not a common cold, it is society's responsibility to slow it down with vaccination and masks," he said. If we are seeing less hospitalisation, it is because of mass vaccination, he added.
"Vaccination is a critical pillar of India's Covid-19 response. Let's Mask Up and get vaccinated, whoever is due. It's fact that the vaccines are helpful to an extent," he said.
Dr Paul also said that the government is concerned about 'overuse and misuse' of drugs in home isolation. "There should be a rational approach for medicine use. We are concerned about the overuse & misuse of drugs. Don't overuse, it will have aftermath. Have warm water, do gargles in home care," he underlined.
About the new ICMR guidelines on Covid testing, Indian Council of Medical Research Director General, Dr Balram Bhargava, said that all symptomatic individuals need to be tested including all high-risk case contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases. Asymptomatic cases are not required to get tested unless they are at high risk.
Meanwhile, Joint Secretary, Health, Lav Agarwal, said that a sharp rise in Covid infections has been noted with the case positivity climbing to 11.05 per cent on Wednesday from 1.1 per cent on December 30.
Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat have emerged as states of concern, he said.
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The diabetes care market in India is expected to reach about $60 billion in the next 10 years, from approximately $17 billion in FY2021, a new report showed on Thursday. With 75 million diabetic patients, and another 200 million pre-diabetics, India is known as the diabetes capital of the world.
Poor lifestyle is the prime reason for the rapid increase in diabetes cases growth of the market, revealed the study done by Redcore, the research arm of Bengaluru-based research firm Redseer consulting.
According to the report, an average Indian spends Rs 11,000 annually on Type-2 diabetes care and Rs 3.5 lakh in a lifetime. From Rs 6,000 annually in the early thirties, the cost increases exponentially to Rs 17,000 by the time they reach 60 years of age.
Further, the report showed that only 5 per cent of the diabetic population falls in the average monthly income segment of Rs 80,000 or more, while 35 per cent fall below Rs 20,000.
"Close to 95 per cent of the diabetic population in India falls in the middle and low income category and has limited access to diabetes care. It is critical for India to identify a diabetes care solution which is affordable and comprehensive to make it a real success in the country," said Anuj Kumar, director, RedCore, in a statement.
New age tech-based innovations such as connected blood glucose monitoring devices and app based-doctor guidance and coaching are playing a significant role in transforming care in western world.However, for India to see the adoption of these tech developments at a broad scale, accessibility and affordability will be the key.
The report also observed that within chronic diseases, diabetes (including prediabetes) has the highest prevalence, followed by cardiovascular disease and hypertension in India. These top three chronic diseases represent a market size of about $35 billion in FY21, and are expected to grow nearly 3 times in the next 10 years, the report said. (Agency)
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There are many ways to give a healthy start to the new year. Follow these tips:
Eat more Whole Foods: Making a conscious effort to fill your plate with more whole foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and pure protein sources) and less processed foods is the easiest approach to start a healthy year (like bread, cheese, processed meats & pre-made frozen meals).
Choose a sustainable Diet: Rather than following fad diets that promise quick results while jeopardising your metabolism and mental wellness. Diets that you won't be able to maintain in the long run once you've reached your ideal weight without feeling deprived. Then worrying that your weight will return once you resume eating without a fixed diet is not worth the effort.
Choose a dietary plan that not only satisfies your objectives but also fits into your daily routine. Delivers slow but long-lasting benefits. It's a privilege to have a diet that may become your lifestyle rather than a "diet."
Where you may strike a balance between your social life and your occasional treats without jeopardising your progress or making you feel bad. Making long-term health a priority, developing self-awareness, and eating intuitively is your recipe to a "sustainable transformation".
Increase Vitamin D intake: Vitamin D supplementation is important not just for bone and immune system health, but it can also help avoid chronic health problems (such as heart disease, diabetes, and some malignancies) and even encourage hair growth. As a result, make sure to catch some sun for at least 15-20 minutes per day and complement with a vitamin D supplement (no more than 4,000IU per day).
Incorporate Movement Into Your Daily Routine: It doesn't matter if you're doing a workout, playing a sport, or simply going for a walk. For maximum functioning, it's critical to get your blood flowing and stimulate oxygen delivery to every region of your body. Make it a point to include some type of physical activity in your everyday routine.
Prioritize Sleep: We often end up preferring socialising above sleeping as overworking has become a badge of honour in our society. We push our bodies to extremes by depriving them of sleep and over-caffeinating them, which leads to anxiety and weakened immunological systems.
Sleep deprivation and poor quality sleep can cause major health issues like insulin resistance, neurological issues, weight gain, depression, and anxiety, to mention a few. As a result, it is critical that we obtain 7-8 hours of excellent sleep each night in order for our bodies to function at their best.
Reduce Stress: Stress is a major contributor to practically all health problems, from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes to digestive disorders (such as IBS, GERD, and gastrointestinal problems) and depression. Internal and external sources of stress are both possible. Although the ultimate goal should be to eliminate all stress.
However, while it is virtually impossible, you may reduce stress by engaging in activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, counselling, or whatever else you enjoy to help you disengage from the outside world and reconnect with yourself. "Me time" is not a self-indulgent indulgence.
Form A Morning Routine: Having a morning routine is similar to showing up for yourself and prioritising yourself. It's the same as honouring yourself and prioritising your needs. Following a morning routine allows you to get your day off to a good start by allowing you to be in tune with yourself before dealing with the rest of the world. This way, rather of allowing your day to control you, you take charge of it.
Say Your Daily Affirmations: Speaking your daily affirmations aloud will not turn you into a narcissist, but it will help you stay on track with the proper energy and mindset. Positive self-talk has the ability to transform unbelief, self-doubt, negative thinking, and body shaming attitudes into gratitude and romanticising your existence. So don't dismiss the importance of positive affirmations.
Set Daily Intentions: Setting your daily aims has a lot more impact than you might believe. It opens up our receptivity, manifests, and sends out what we want to bring into our lives. Intentions provide us with a sense of direction as well as motivation and inspiration to attain our goals. Together, writing down your intentions and saying your affirmations for the day creates the most effective visualising tool for staying focused and committed to your goals.
Choose Passion Over Perfection: Stop doing things half-heartedly. As a result, you put in more effort and become frustrated. However, if you are enthusiastic about a job or work, you should be able to complete it with less effort and more joy.
Because you'll give it your all and put your heart and soul into it. You are defined by your passion. It elevates you and allows you to shine. (Veronica Kumra is a Holistic Nutritionist)
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