Health News Roundup

Calls for more equity in heart transplants, and more in this week’s roundup

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Disparities in donor acceptance rates point to need for more equitable heart transplant care
Deborah Balthazar, STAT News, March 25
According to a new study, there are gender- and race-based disparities in the acceptance rate of donor hearts. Researchers found that both Black and white women were more likely to have an offered heart accepted by their transplant team than Black men who repeatedly faced rejected offers. Black men had the longest wait for a transplant, which could mean a higher waitlist mortality. Overall, the odds were significantly lower for Black individuals than white individuals that an offer would be accepted. Experts suggest that transplant centers need to collect more data on how they are accepting donors or not accepting donors based on race, ethnicity, and sex and look for patterns.

Many struggle with addiction during, after incarceration. Will CT use opioid settlement funds to help?
Katy Golvala and Jaden Edison, The Connecticut Mirror, March 24
Nearly three-quarters of people behind bars in the state have a substance use disorder requiring some level of treatment. For most of the last decade formerly incarcerated people have accounted for about half of the annual overdose deaths. As the state works to figure out how to spend millions of dollars in opioid settlement funds, some experts recommend part of that money go towards addressing the opioid crisis’ effect on justice-involved people, the majority of whom are Black and Latino. However, some warn that expanding treatment won’t be enough to solve the problem without also repairing the state’s re-entry system.

Can a ‘prescription’ for free fruits and vegetables improve health? Study after study say yes
Aria Bendix, NBC News, March 21
A growing number of programs in the U.S. allow doctors to prescribe fruits and vegetables like medicine in an effort to combat heart problems and obesity-related diseases. Recent studies support the benefits of these programs. New research presented this week compared two groups of patients from federally qualified health centers. One group received fresh produce deliveries and the other did not. They found that those who received the fruits and vegetables significantly lowered their non-HDL cholesterol, had lower blood sugar levels, and increased their physical activity.

Alzheimer’s patients and their families struggle to navigate care in CT, report finds
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, March 25
Alzheimer’s patients and their families struggle with cost of care, multiple doctors, getting appointments, and more according to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association. In Connecticut, roughly 80,000 people aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s dementia and are cared for by family members. More Black and Hispanic caregivers say they provide care on a daily basis compared to white caregivers. “The big takeaway from this year’s special report is that dementia caregivers want and need help navigating the complex health care system and accessing community-based services,” said Ginny Hanbridge, executive director, Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Chapter.

More young people than ever will get colorectal cancer this year
Knvul Sheikh, The New York Times, March 27
Rates of colorectal cancer are rising rapidly among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Experts are now trying to figure out what is behind that increase. Some research suggests there is a genetic component. Lifestyle and dietary changes have also been linked to increased rates of colorectal cancer, and experts are also looking at the possibility of other environmental drivers. For many years, the rates of colorectal cancer diagnoses were highest among non-Hispanic Black people, but research shows that these cancers increased more among non-Hispanic white people in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now, both groups have fairly similar rates of cancer.