Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of June 29, 2020 – July 3, 2020.

COVID-19 may cause platelets to become “hyperreactive,” researchers say

Newsweek (6/27, Gander) reported, “The COVID-19 coronavirus may cause cells which help blood to clot to become ‘hyperreactive,’ according to scientists who believe this may be why clotting is a problem for some patients.” Blood clotting complications “are common in COVID-19 patients and can cause organ failure and death, particular in those with underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, according to the authors of the paper published in the journal Blood.” The scientists “found that the virus appears to influence how platelets are made by changing gene expression,” and “the germ also seems to affect how blood clots in COVID-19 patients, making platelets ‘hyperreactive’, or overly sensitive to stimuli, and more likely to cluster, stick together, and spread.”

Premature births may be associated with increased coronary heart disease risks in mothers, study suggests

The New York Times (6/29, Bakalar) reports, “Women who give birth prematurely may be at increased risk for coronary heart disease, a new study has found, and the risk could persist for decades.” The research findings indicate that “in the first 10 years after delivery, compared with women who delivered at 39 to 41 weeks’ gestation, those who delivered earlier than 37 weeks had almost two and a half times the risk for heart disease.” Furthermore, “even women who delivered only slightly early, at 37 to 38 weeks, were at a 47% increased risk, and the earlier the delivery, the higher the risk.”

HealthDay (6/29, Preidt) reports, “While the risk of heart disease declined over time, it remained significantly higher for as long as 43 years after preterm delivery, researchers said.” What’s more, “the increased risk was independent of other contributors to heart disease, such as smoking or obesity, according to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.”

Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana law requiring admitting privileges at nearby hospitals for physicians who perform abortions

USA Today (6/29, Wolf) reports, “The court ruled 5-4 that a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals would unduly burden women.”

CBS News (6/29, Smith) reports, “Supporters of the law say it was designed to improve patient safety, but critics say its intention was to shut down clinics that provide” reproductive health services, including abortion. Several “professional medical organizations – including...the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – disagreed with the health claims, saying that given the safety of the procedure, admitting privilege laws for abortion providers are medically unnecessary.”

FDA says COVID-19 vaccine must be at least 50% effective to be approved

The Washington Post (6/30, McGinley) reports the FDA on Tuesday said that to be approved a COVID-19 vaccine must “prevent disease, or decrease its severity, in at least 50% of the people who receive it.” Still, “many people believe a vaccine initially would be made available through a much lower standard for temporary approvals.”

The Wall Street Journal (6/30, Burton, Subscription Publication) reports that the FDA said it would not approve a vaccine based on it resulting in antibodies in a patient’s bloodstream.

Total COVID-19 deaths in U.S. likely higher than official count, study suggests

Reuters (7/1, Beasley) reports, “The number of Americans who died from COVID-19 in March through May was likely significantly higher than the official U.S. count due in part to state-level reporting discrepancies, according to a study published” in JAMA Internal Medicine. The total “overall number of U.S. deaths for any cause tallied by the National Center for Health Statistics during March, April and May was 781,000, or 122,300 more than the historical average for the period.” The death count from March through May “officially listed as due to COVID-19 was 95,235, or 28% less than that excess number.”

AMA Morning Rounds news coverage is developed in affiliation with Bulletin Healthcare LLC. Subscribe to Morning Rounds Daily.

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