New mothers and obese people may be at an increased risk for complications stemming from influenza, according to a new study from researchers at McMaster University in Canada.
Researchers examined data collected as part of 239 observation studies carried out between 1918 and 2011. They found that pregnancy women and the obese were both at significantly increased risks of death and other severe complications linked with a bout of the flu. Historically neither group has been considered high risk and has never received preferential treatment for flu vaccines.
"Policy makers and public health organizations need to recognize the poor quality of evidence that has previously supported decisions on who receives vaccines during an epidemic," said lead researcher Dr. Dominik Mertz.
"If we can define the risk groups we can optimally allocate vaccines, and that is particularly important when and if there is vaccine shortage, say during a new pandemic. These data reinforce the need to carefully define those conditions that lead to complications following infection with influenza."
Early intervention for diabetes may also decrease the risk of developing heart disease, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Miami.
Researchers examined roughly 1,600 patients who displayed the early indicators of diabetes. This group was split into three smaller groups, one that took the diabetes medication metformin, one that underwent an intensive lifestyle change including diet and exercise, and another that took a placebo drug.
They found that those who took metformin and underwent lifestyle changes showed a significant dip in small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, which are associated with plaque that can lead to heart disease.
"Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of death and disability in people with diabetes," said the study's lead author, Ronald Goldberg, MD, of the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "Our findings demonstrate that the same therapies used to slow the onset of diabetes also may help allay the risk of heart disease."