News Briefs


Persistent Viral Shedding of COVID-19 Is Associated With Delirium And Six-Month Mortality


A new study from Northwestern Medicine found that patients with COVID-19 who continued to test positive more than 14 days after their initial positive test were more likely to experience delirium and longer hospital stays, were less likely to be discharged home, and had a greater six-month mortality than those without persistent viral shedding of COVID-19.

The study, published in GeroScience, included 2,518 patients who required hospitalization for COVID-19 throughout the Northwestern Medicine health system between March and August 2020. A total of 959 underwent repeat COVID-19 testing at least 14 days from initial testing, and 405 of those patients (42%) were found to have persistent viral shedding.

In the persistent shedding group, 56% of people experienced in-hospital delirium and15% of patients died within six months.Common comorbidities were chronic kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, and increased BMI. The association persisted even after adjusting for age, severity of respiratory dysfunction, and presence of delirium.

The strong link between prolonged viral shedding and experiencing delirium also suggests studies are needed to investigate if prolonged viral shedding is related to neurological symptoms in COVID-19 long-haulers.


MinuteClinic Offers Free Heart Health Screenings for Women


MinuteClinic is offering women no-cost heart health screenings during National Women's Health Week, May 8 through May 14, as part of its goal to make women's health care more accessible, equitable and personalized.

The screening includes learning the four key personal health numbers that can help determine risk for heart disease, including total cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index. To participate, patients can schedule a "Test, Screenings or Physical (Non-Covid)" visit at their nearest MinuteClinic location, then visit to print or download their Heart Health screening voucher. 

"Even though heart disease affects so many women, the good news is that the vast majority of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes," said Joanne Armstrong, MD, MPH, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Women's Health and Genomics at CVS Health.

CVS Pharmacy Inc. is a National Sponsor of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement. From May 1 through May 28, CVS Pharmacy customers can support Go Red for Women by rounding up their change to make a donation at stores nationwide or online at

"As the country begins the next phase of the pandemic, we need to remind women that their health is a priority, among all of the other responsibilities that so many of us are juggling," said Meredith M. Dixon, MSN, FNP-BC, MBA, NEA-BC, interim President, MinuteClinic. "Free heart screenings are just one of the ways that MinuteClinic providers are able to support women's health journeys, no matter what age or life stage they may be in."

Visit for more information about the free heart health screenings and to donate to the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement.


Jesse Yeung Named VP of Marketing at EnsembleIQ

Jesse Yeung

Jesse Yeung has been named Vice President of Marketing at EnsembleIQ, the parent company of Convenient Care Clinician. Yeung will be responsible for EnsembleIQ’s marketing strategy including brand marketing, marketing communications, and marketing operations that fuel revenue, audience engagement, and business growth. 

“We are fortunate to have Jesse to lead our marketing efforts,' said Joe Territo, executive vice president, content and communications, EnsembleIQ. "He brings a wealth of experience in the business-to-business foodservice, grocery, and meetings/events industries to this important position. Jesse’s role is vital to increasing awareness of EnsembleIQ and our properties in retail, healthcare and hospitality.”

Yeung was previously the marketing director at Informa Connect, where he was responsible for leading an integrated marketing strategy for digital and event brands in the restaurant, foodservice, catering, grocery, meetings and special-events industries. A strategic and data-driven marketer, Yeung has extensive audience development, demand generation, content marketing and event marketing expertise supporting business-to-business content and event brands.


New Alzheimer’s Disease Marker Has Implications for Brain Supplements

man with a brain disorder such as AD

Elevated blood levels of the enzyme PHGDH may be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a new study published in Cell Metabolism.

Researchers examined post-mortem human brains and found that expression levels of the gene coding for PHGDH were higher in people with AD, even years before cognitive symptoms appeared. The study looked at three groups:

  • people with AD
  • asymptomatic people who showed early signs of Alzheimer's-related changes in post-mortem analysis
  • healthy controls.

There was a consistent increase in PHGDH expression among the first two groups and the expression levels were higher the more advanced the disease. Investigators also found a steep increase in PHGDH gene expression in healthy individuals approximately two years before they were diagnosed with the disease.

The findings have implications for serine supplements, which are advertised to improve memory and cognitive function. Serine supplements were developed based on the idea that people with AD have too little serine, but this study suggests that opposite: PHGDH is a key enzyme in the production of serine. Increased PHGDH expression, then, suggests that the rate of serine production in the brain is also elevated. Additional serine supplementation, therefore, is not beneficial.

"Anyone looking to recommend or take serine to mitigate Alzheimer's symptoms should exercise caution," said researcher Riccardo Calandrelli, PhD.

Source: Xu Chen, Riccardo Calandrelli, John Girardini, Zhangming Yan, Zhiqun Tan, Xiangmin Xu, Annie Hiniker, Sheng Zhong. PHGDH expression increases with progression of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and symptoms. Cell Metabolism, 2022; 34 (5): 651 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2022.02.008


Mental Health Concerns Rising

Woman with seasonal affective disorder

Mental health concerns are increasing among adults, particularly those who are Black, either young or older than 65, and identify as LGBTQIA+, according to a CVS Health survey.

  • About 59% of survey respondents reported that they have experienced concerns about their own mental health or that of family and friends, a 9%-point increase since April 2020.
  • 57% of respondents who identify as LGBTQIA+ expressed concerns about their own mental health, 20%-points higher compared to other respondents.
  • 74% of respondents ages 18 to 34 experienced mental health concerns for themselves, family or friends—a 12%-point increase compared to two years ago.
  • Black Americans surveyed saw an 11%-point increase in mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic.
  • 40% of respondents ages 65 and older experienced mental health concerns for themselves, family or friends, reflecting a 10%-point increase compared to two years ago.

The poll of 2,209 adults was conducted between April 6 and 9, 2022.

Seeking Care

People are also becoming more comfortable with seeking out mental health resources. Most respondents agreed that society has become more comfortable engaging in mental health discussions (56%), using digital tools to improve mental health (58%), and using telemedicine for therapy (63%). The growing use of telemedicine and digital tools to treat mental health can be a welcome option for those who are apprehensive about receiving mental health care in person.

"Despite the longstanding stigma and other challenges in mental health, there is a clear shift taking place through the power of technology," said CVS Health President and CEO Karen S. Lynch. "CVS Health provided 10 million virtual mental health visits last year, compared to 20,000 prior to the pandemic, which is enabling us to meet the growing demand brought on by COVID-19. We are firmly committed to developing new programs and resources that help make mental health care more routine, convenient and accessible for all communities."

"The impact of isolation, loss, grief and burnout will effect of our mental health for years to come," said Cara McNulty, President, Behavioral Health and Mental Well-being, CVS Health. "As a result, we continue to expand services and resources to meet the long-term needs of communities, workforces – including our own – and loved ones to make gains on our goal to reduce suicide attempts 20 percent among our membership by the year 2025, which is an imperative."


Low-Dose Aspirin a No-Go for Low-Risk Patients Says USPSTF

heart disease and mental illness

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released its final recommendations on low-dose aspirin therapy for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults. The guidance aligns with what the American Heart Association said in 2019:

• People with a history of atrial fibrillation (AFib), heart attack, vascular stenting, or stroke should continue to take low-dose aspirin.

• People with no history of cardiovascular disease or stroke should not take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke.

Low-risk adults with a higher risk for bleeding should not take low-dose aspirin. Because of the blood-thinning effects of aspirin, for most adults, the risk of bleeding may be greater than the number of heart attacks or strokes actually prevented.

• Some middle-aged adults may benefit from low-dose aspirin therapy if they are at high risk for heart attack or stroke owing to risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or significant family history.

“We continue to urge clinicians to be extremely selective when prescribing aspirin for adults without known cardiovascular disease,” notes Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, president of the American Heart Association.

“For example, people with higher risk for gastric or intracerebral bleeding should not take aspirin to prevent a CV event. Aspirin should be limited to only those adults at the highest risk for cardiovascular disease due to the presence and severity of other risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or significant family history, who also have a very low risk of bleeding. Some recent evidence also indicates some people with higher coronary calcium scores, >100 units, indicating higher plaque burden and risk, may also benefit from aspirin therapy if they have no history of prior bleeding.”

Low-dose aspirin is not appropriate to prevent a first heart attack or stroke in most people. Instead, most people would benefit from lifestyle changes. “Various research studies over the past two decades indicate more than 80% of all cardiovascular events may be prevented by healthy lifestyle changes and management of known risk factors (like high blood pressure and adverse cholesterol levels) with medication when needed,” notes Dr. Lloyd-Jones.

“Eating healthy foods and beverages, regular physical activity, and not smoking are key. The scientific evidence continues to confirm healthy lifestyle habits and effectively managing blood pressure and cholesterol are the top ways to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, not low-dose aspirin.”