Health News Roundup

Black Americans at higher risk of stroke, and more in this week’s roundup

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Black Americans face higher rates of stroke at younger ages
Adrianna Rodriguez, USA Today, Jan. 10
While the overall rate of stroke has reduced over time, health disparities have seen little improvement in more than two decades. A new study found that Black Americans suffer from strokes at a much younger age than white Americans. Researchers looked at data spanning 22 years and found the rate of stroke among Black patients remained up to 80% higher than the rate among white patients, even after the authors adjusted for age and sex. Though the average age for a white person to have a stroke decreased slightly from 72 to 71, among Black individuals it dropped from 66 to 62. Experts said Black Americans are also more likely to die from strokes.

WIC helps moms and kids eat. But finding what you need isn’t always easy
Kenya Hunter, The Associated Press, Jan. 5
More than 6 million people in the U.S. get benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women and Children, commonly known as WIC. Bianca Williams, a mother from Milwaukee is one of them. She’s also one of the many who struggle to find a store that accepts WIC or has the produce, baby formula, and other items they need. “Sometimes, to be honest, I don’t even use it,” said Williams. “Because it’s so hard to get to and from the grocery store, and find a vendor that does accept (WIC).” WIC-approved items can’t be bought online and complex requirements make it difficult for some stores to participate.

New report provides detailed insight into how CT cities are spending opioid settlement money
Sujata Srinivasan and Katie Pellico, Connecticut Public Radio, Jan. 8
The first report detailing how Connecticut towns and cities are spending settlement funds from opioid manufacturers and distributors shows that so far about $1 million has been allocated and itemized. All but three of the state’s 169 municipalities reported on their spending priorities. For example, Waterbury spent its money on hiring outreach workers to conduct street-level training on fentanyl test strips, identifying overdose victims and administering Narcan and CPR. Of  the $600 million in state settlement funds expected in the next 20 years, 15% is allocated for municipalities.

Online racism is linked to PTSD symptoms in Black youth, study finds
Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, Jan. 5
Black children and teens who experience racial discrimination online may develop symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder. A new study found that those PTSD symptoms were also potentially linked to suicidal thoughts. Suicide rates of Black youth have risen over the past two decades. Researchers suspect online racism may play a role in suicide risk. “We know that cyberbullying is an issue for all kiddos,” said study co-author Ashley Denise Maxie-Moreman. “But in particular, for our Black youth, cyberbullying in the form of online racial discrimination is a really big issue.”

Patients’ social needs often get lost in health records. Generative AI could help
Katie Palmer, STAT News, Jan. 11
Artificial intelligence could serve both patients and providers by scanning patients’ clinical records for social determinants of health. Factors such as housing, transportation, and financial stability play a critical role in people’s health, but it takes a concerted effort to screen patients for this information and it can get lost among their many other notes. Researchers had AI screen notes for 770 cancer patients, 48 of whom had an adverse social determinant hidden in their notes. The best-performing model was able to identify 45 of those patients. However, researchers said these systems would need significant development before being used in real care settings.