Dr. B's Weekly Roundup: Honoring Veteran Health
Welcome to the Dr. B Weekly Roundup, a curated weekly overview that cuts through the noise to deliver vetted reads on Covid-19 and beyond. Veterans Day is Friday, November 11th. No matter how we feel about international politics or warfare, the people who put their bodies on the frontlines deserve as much healthcare support as our country can offer. Let's honor their service by reviewing the healthcare issues our service members + veterans face right now. Plus, how we can help. Fall in with…
- The Checkup: self care + swearing (!)
- We Salute: our veterans + healthcare
- Covid-19: BQ variants + ♥️ updates
- With insurance enrollment open, here’s how to watch for scams
- What's slugging? A viral dermatologist-approved (!) beauty routine
- Tested negative but feeling sick? Here’s advice to help you analyze
- Lay back + listen to podcasts that help you feel happier about life
- Anti-amyloid drugs may help those predisposed to Alzheimer's
- Yay! There’s no proof that antiperspirants cause breast cancer
- Here’s how long it takes for coffee to kick in + how to make it hit faster
- New studies are showing the direct effects of abortion restrictions
- Black Americans + medical debt = one of our widest racial disparities
- Sh#t! Studies show the fascinating cognitive effects of swearing
- Picked too many apples? Here’s how to use them in more than pie
Protect a service member's freedom to choose
Women make up the fastest-growing subpopulation of the military (currently 17%). With federal abortion protections removed, 450,000 service members now live in states where Military Health providers can no longer provide abortions in cases of rape, incest or danger to a mother’s life. “Our Service members and their families are often required to travel or move to meet our staffing, operational, and training requirements,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III points out in a recent memo. “Such moves should not limit their access to reproductive health care.” Austin’s memo calls for privacy protections, allowances for abortion-related travel and an improved contraception education campaign.
Read up on why this is a vital step for our service members. And here's how the Department of Veterans Affairs (confusingly, an entirely separate entity) is shaking up abortion offerings, too.
What to know about the PACT Act
In the last two decades, veterans exposed to burn pits + toxic substances during their service have been diagnosed with cancer, lung diseases and terminal respiratory issues. But until recently, the VA could dispute the connection, refuse care and deny medical expenses. That changed with President Biden’s August 10th signing of the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (the PACT Act). Now, 23 burn pit-related conditions are diagnosable in post-911 combat veterans—and the VA is urging them to seek care. 113,000 claims have already been filed, making clear the staggering amount of service members who’ve suffered without help for too long.
Learn more about the what + how here.
When the battle continues...
Dr. Sudip Bose is an emergency medicine physician, military combat veteran and advisor to the Dr. B team. Passionate about improving veteran health, Dr. Bose founded The Battle Continues, a 501c3 offering veterans financial support for medical treatments. On our blog, Dr. Bose shares what he learned as a combat physician + how it inspired him to pay it forward. Here’s a teaser:
“One of the people we helped was Brock—a veteran who suffered from an explosion. He's now sporting metal plates in his back and a reconstructed ankle. His wife, Christina, is a Navy veteran. And like many veterans, they were homeless when they came back from deployment. I was a combat physician, and my job translated to the civilian sector. But if you're driving tanks or a gunner, your leadership skills don’t translate. So Brock and Christina were homeless and I asked them, ‘What was the best gift you received?’ Their answer shocked me. They said the best gift they received was a blanket. We think it takes so much to help these veterans. But the little things can make a big impact.
“When somebody donates to The Battle Continues, every penny goes to an injured veteran’s medical costs. Donate $25 and that $25 lands in a glass fishbowl and we write a check and I use my connections to help someone get a surgery or cover costs for a prosthetic limb. It's as simple as that. It's like tying a tourniquet—a plain piece of cloth wrapped around a limb stops bleeding and saves 80% of preventable deaths and tons of downstream costs. That's what The Battle Continues does. Keep it simple, like a tourniquet. Like a blanket.”
Read Dr. Bose's full story here.
The latest: pandemic
New VA study finds Paxlovid may cut the risk of long COVID (NPR). A study of 56,000 patients in the VA health system found that those who took Paxlovid were 26% better protected against developing one or more long-term symptoms (long Covid). This efficacy was found across those who were unvaccinated, vaccinated and boosted. While showing how Paxlovid may help limit long-term Covid-19 disability, this also encourages further research on ways to reduce viral load. Paxlovid remains free for infected high-risk people. Learn more here.
A COVID wave of BQ infections that started in New York has already reached California. It’s about to engulf the rest of the nation, experts say (Fortune). The BQ variants now make up (at least) one third of cases in New York State. They evade antibody immunity, spread fast, increase hospitalizations + reduce treatment options for the immunocompromised. And the wider they spread, the more likely they are to create new subvariants that more easily spread, kill and cause long Covid. So mask up and stay safe!
Heart inflammation risk remains rare after third COVID-19 vaccine dose (American Heart Association). Good news for those who worry about Covid-19 vaccinations + myocarditis. A new study shows that myocarditis cases were four times greater after a second Covid-19 vaccine than pre-pandemic averages, but only 2.6 times greater after a third dose. Among the 1.4 million people who received a third dose, only 9 have been hospitalized for myocarditis. In general, most cases resolve without medical intervention. Ready for your booster? Get one here.