COVID-19: Vaccines and Treatment

Hello Everyone!  Today’s post is to talk about two of the most awaited items that, if functional, can potentially become game-changers in our fight …

COVID-19: Vaccines and Treatment

COVID-19: Obesity

There are no official numbers but I bet, obesity numbers have increased many folds because of this pandemic! Most people are inside their homes, working from homes and not working at all! And most of these are just eating and watching depressing news everyday! Some of them have found an excuse not to exercise or workouts.

Although this pandemic is something that was not asked for and something that has stagnated the entire world, we cannot afford to grow obese! America was already suffering with about 40% obese population because of which diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and other serous diseases like Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, etc have been on the rise. Now with Corona pandemic, it’s up to us to take our nation towards more obesity or better health! Give it a thought! Why? Continue reading till the end! And if you feel like making a difference, pass it on, as a word of wisdom to a friend of yours.

Obesity is found to be one of the major risk factors associated with COVID-19 symptoms and complications. It can cause severe illness and even deaths. There has been a series of evidences supporting this observation. Irrespective of whether they have cardiovascular complications or not, obesity is still considered a risk for corona infection. Let’s dig deeper and understand obesity and how does it relate to COVID-19! What’s diabetes and other CV diseases like hypertension to do with COVID-19!

Source: Getty Images

What is obesity?

For a lot of people, obesity is just about being “fat”. It’s actually more than that. Even “non-fat” looking people can be obese too! Yes, as per guidelines, anyone whose BMI is greater than 30 is obese. But again, the BMI is calculated based on weight and height. Weight might be due to muscles and not fat in which case, you may not be obese. That’s why I suggest you should get this verdict from your doctor and not just internet. Here is something from CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the normal.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

Obesity is frequently subdivided into categories:

  • Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI of 35 to < 40
  • Class 3: BMI of 40 or higher. Class 3 obesity is sometimes categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity.

Class 3 or severe obesity is considered risky for COVID-19. The reason behind this might be inability to breathe properly. People with obesity are more likely to have higher resistance in their airways, lower lung volumes, and weaker respiratory muscles, which are critical in the defense against COVID-19. These factors make an individual more likely to develop pneumonia, and they place additional stress on the heart.

Also, fat cells stimulate inflammatory cells more than other cells. So, addition of corona virus further adds inflammatory load. Lastly, it has been found that fat cells have more ACE2 receptors, the ones on which COVID-19 binds to enter human cells.

This risk is particularly relevant in the U.S. because the prevalence of obesity is around 40%, compared to a prevalence of about 6% in China and 20% in Italy. (Source: https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/06/01/david-kass-obesity-covid-19/)

According to an article in Medical News Today,

Obesity is also associated with diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, all of which likewise increase the risk of developing pneumonia.

Setting these issues aside, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and prediabetes could make people more susceptible to infection, the authors point out.

Diabetes: predictor of severe infection

As the lead author of the study, Dr. Norbert Stefan, of the German Center for Diabetes Research, explained to Medical News Today:

“There is data emerging showing that hyperglycemia [high levels of glucose in the blood], even in the range where diabetes cannot be diagnosed, is a strong and independent predictor of a severe course of COVID-19,”

What should we do:

Source: Paul Green/Unsplash
  • Know your numbers- find out your BMI. Your doctor should be able to determine your accurate BMI during your routine visit. CDC has a BMI calculator that you can use as an option: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
  • Be active- Just because we are under lockdowns, don’t be ridden by sofa or bed. It’s found that people are not exercising at all because of lockdowns. We don’t have to go to gyms to do basic physical exercise. We can walk, run, jog, play in our backyards or terraces or community walkways. Not only will this improve our health and keep us in shape but also our children will follow us and stay healthy. Otherwise, binge watching Netflix or playing PS-4 for hours and hours can literally cost our health.
  • Prevent Diabetes or manage it well to percent Obesity, CV complications, other complications and COVID infection! Download a user friendly app like Glucocious which not only educates on several aspects of diabetes management and prevention but also allows you to consult a pharmacist “live”! Here are the links for IOS and Android:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/glucocious/id1252928129?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.glucocious.Glucocious

Source: http://www.glucocious.com

Finally, have a positive frame of mind and work on your fitness. Stay fit and live a happy, healthy life. Corona will pass by and good times will come back!

COVID-19: Lockdown measures have eased, but what should you do now?

An Apple A Day!

Hello Everyone!

With social distancing and lockdown measures easing down, as well as daily cases coming to a gradual decrease, it is very easy to drop your guard with COVID-19. However, we must remember that thousands of cases still occur daily, a second wave of infections is probable, and that everyone is still susceptible to the virus. Today’s post is meant to offer some do’s and don’t’s regarding this situation: 

✅Having followed social distancing and lockdown measures for around 3 months, I understand it is very hard to avoid the urge to go outside. Even though the best practice is to stay in your home, if you do end up going outside, remember to AVOID CROWDED PLACES and stay with the least amount of people possible (preferably under 10)

✅Exercise is good for you and recommended for maintaining good health. So, if you choose to exercise during these times, remember…

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COVID-19: Exponential rise of mental disorders

(Unprecedented during the unprecedented)

Source: Camila Quintero Franco/Unsplash

As such mental disorders were a growing pandemic, but now add it to another pandemic! Sorry to say this but it’s a reality. Mental disorders were on the rise even pre-Corona. But now with all the negativity building due to increasing number of deaths every day, increased unemployment everyday, shortage of essential supplies, deficiencies in necessities and much more, mental disorders have gone up exponentially! Millions of people are in pain, frustration, agony while being locked up in their homes. Millions have no rent to pay, scared to get evicted! Millions of them have no plan about how to get provide food and other essentials to their family! Even with re-opening underway, businesses might take a significant time to come back to normalcy and with that, common men and women might hopefully find some respite! These are all the factors that worsen the mental disorders epidemic!

Source: Ian Espinosa/Unsplash

Even people who didn’t have any history of mental disorders are getting affected somehow. If this is an overstatement, read this from the Washington post:

“The suicides of two New York health-care workers highlight the risks, especially to those combating the pandemic. Lorna Breen, a top New York emergency room doctor, had spent weeks contending with coronavirus patients flooding her hospital and sometimes dying before they could be removed from ambulances. She had no history of mental illness, her relatives have said in interviews, but struggled increasingly with the emotional weight of the outbreak before she died. Days later, reports emerged that a Bronx emergency medical technician also killed himself.”

An alarming and informative article from Washington post is an eye-opener.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/04/mental-health-coronavirus/?outputType=amp

Some key points from the above article:

“Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, the country is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma.

Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

Just as the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus caught hospitals unprepared, the United States’ mental-health system — vastly underfunded, fragmented and difficult to access before the pandemic — is even less prepared to handle this coming surge.”

“That’s what is keeping me up at night,” said Susan Borja, who leads the traumatic stress research program at the National Institute of Mental Health. “I worry about the people the system just won’t absorb or won’t reach. I worry about the suffering that’s going to go untreated on such a large scale.”

“People are really afraid,” Talkspace co-founder and CEO Oren Frank said. The increasing demand for services, he said, follows almost exactly the geographic march of the virus across the United States. “What’s shocking to me is how little leaders are talking about this. There are no White House briefings about it. There is no plan.”

Another factual article regarding this ever growing epidemic worsening during COVID-19:

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200508/mental-health-emerging-crisis-of-covid-pandemic

Still stigmatized, undiagnosed

Source: Jorick Jing/Unsplash

With COVID-19, access to healthcare has been a bit restricted although more and more practices have adapted and started telemedicine. Our job as citizens, as health care providers and as common men and women, is to identify mental disorders in ourselves, societies, families and recognize them as a problem. Our job is to eradicate the stigma which has been around mental disorders for decades and centuries. Our job is to help these people find care and start treatment right away.

Just like we have been trying hard to find a cure and vaccines for Corona virus, it’s so important to work towards this ever growing epidemic of Mental disorders. If not, mental disorders will not not only ruin the individuals and their families, but will also continue to daunt our communities and result in unfortunate incidents. People with mental disorders deserve as much attention as patients suffering from any other health disorder.

Reaching horizons soon! Corona will set soon!

Source: Richard Price/Unsplash

We are in the middle of an unprecedented, unbelievable and unheard scenario. Who knew, just a few months ago, that a virus, a bug will change our lives, to this extent! A lot of us had plans to go to cruises or Disney or Universal or some quite getaways. Unfortunately, we had to cancel everything. A lot of scheduled appointments had to be postponed till further notice. A lot of patients had to postpone their surgeries or treatments.

Millions and millions of people around the world have lost jobs! The governments are doing their part in the form of stimulus packages and other relief measures to ease out financial burdens on their citizens.

The questions that come to everyone’s mind everyday are: when is this going to end? When is life coming back to normal? When will corona set? Where is the horizon?

History is the evidence

Zika, H1N1, SARS, Spanish Flu, etc etc. All of these have come and gone! Yes COVID-19 is probably the strongest one and is causing greater harm and is lasting longer than its predecessors but nothing is permanent, nothing is invincible.

Just like the cycle of life and death, parasites have their cycles of survival (till it’s unknown) and death (once it’s known). Scientifically speaking, once herd immunity starts, this virus will also start to disappear like all of the previous ones. Like any other human parasite, it can only survive till it finds humans that it can infect. Once the human species finds immunity against it, it can’t infect humans anymore!

Vaccines- herd immunity

The best way to generate herd immunity is immunization! There is a lot of fuss going around in the process of re-opening that let people infect others and acquire immunity. Technically speaking, yes, but it’s too dangerous to acquire immunity like this.

Dozens of institutions are working towards making a vaccine. Some of them are progressing towards third phase of testing. If everything goes right, a few companies will come up with a working vaccine by as early as October-December!

Hang on till vaccines are being invented! Science has the answers but we need to be patient. It needs only a microbe to cause a pandemic but it needs a lot of time, resources and most importantly, patience. So readers, please spread your positivity amongst your friends and relatives. We all understand the difficult times that a lot of us are going through, but believe me, “there is always light at the end of the tunnel”.

Source: Tim Foster/Unsplash

Rise of cancer related deaths during the pandemic

It was expected! Patients appointments are cancelled and postponed because the clinics are closed. A lot of clinicians were made to work from home. This resulted in patients’ lack of medical access, delay of the early diagnosis, delay of treatments like chemo or radiation of known diagnoses and delay of decision making on behalf of patients and clinicians.

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Here are the most important stories that Medscape Oncology’s editors picked for you to read today:

Excess Cancer Deaths Predicted After COVID-19 

One year from now, there will be 33,890 excess deaths among patients with cancer in the United States, and 6270 excess deaths in England, predicts a first of its kind report.

The prediction is based on data showing that the majority of patients who have cancer and individuals suspected of having cancer are not accessing healthcare services because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found a 60% decrease in chemotherapy attendance and a 76% decrease in urgent cancer referrals for early diagnosis compared with prepandemic levels.

“It is universally accepted that early diagnosis and treatment and adherence to treatment regimens saves lives,” pointed out a commentator. “Therefore, these COVID-19–related impacts will cost lives.”

Heading towards new normals

I hope that going forward, these patients don’t die because of lack of access of medical care. When humans have been struck with such a pandemic, we have blessed with growth in technology. Why can’t tele-health become the future of healthcare? This is already been in practice these days. So why can’t our cancer patients reach out their physicians online and get their check ups online? This will be the new normal and should be the new normal!

Tele-health is not a new concept. Companies like Genoa Health care have been thriving on this concept for their tele-psychiatry program. They have millions of patients seeking treatment and consultations via tele health. It’s amazing to see how COVID-19 pandemic taught us to accept tele-health as our future of clinical consultations! Imagine the benefits of this! No cancer patient will stay deprived of medical care and get their early diagnosis and treatments. No patient will have to wait for months to get appointments. Outpatient centers won’t get overcrowded for unnecessary patient visits. Less traffic in roads, less consumption of gas, more productive use of time for both patients and doctors, cost effective- some of the other fringe benefits of tele-health.

Source: Marek Levak/Unsplash

Diabetes and COVID-19

“Diabetes is generally a major risk factor for the development of severe pneumonia and sepsis due to virus infections, and data from several sources suggest the risk for death from COVID-19 is up to 50% higher in people with diabetes than those without, they say” – Miriam E Tucker, Medscape, April 28, 2020, More guidance on “vulnerable subgroup” with Diabetes and COVID-19.

Source: https://diatribe.org/what-you-need-know-about-diabetes-and-coronavirus

An article from Medscape lists what can be safely used, what medicines be dropped and what medications be used with caution:

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/929558?src=iphone&ref=message

Patients who have diabetes must seek professional consultation and get education regarding COVID-19 symptoms, dos and donts and most importantly, know what medications they shouldn’t be taking in case they become positive to the virus.

Free consultation from Glucocious

Source: Glucocious

Feel free to consult at:

https://pharmacist4u.info/contact/

Post Corona: What would it be like!

Source: Laura Chouette/ Unsplash

It’s fair to say that Corona virus has set “new normals” for the world. At this moment, the entire world is trying to control the spread and working hard to invent treatments and vaccines. “What would it be like” is not exactly the priority for the moment!

As it has been said by scientists around the world that this unprecedented pandemic is not a one time thing like the West Nile virus or the mad cow’s disease or the H1N1 or even the SARS. This one will be around for a while or may be even seasonal, like Influenza. So, unless, vaccines are good enough, it’s gonna be social distancing throughout!

Once cases are suppressed, it may allow some measures to be lifted for a while – until cases rise and another round of restrictions are needed. Doing this could, unintentionally, lead to herd immunity as more and more people were to be infected.

Fun and entertainment

Imagine Disney world admits only one-tenth Of the number of people in the park and increase the entrance charge multiple fold. Imagine people for rides are 6 feet apart. Imagine the carts for rides are so far from each other and no two people can sit together!

Imagine a movie theater! 5 vacant seats between 2 people! Movie tickets might be so unaffordable! Only the rich might go to movie theaters.

And what about beaches! Probably banned for public. What about cruises and flights! And the list goes on and on!

Home might be our real and virtual world! Amazon prime and Netflix might be our only entertainment sources. Our backyards and swimming pools might be our only getaways and resorts. I hope sports be played the same way except the spectators separated on the stands or may be no spectators! Hopefully, none of the above imaginations come true. We would love to have our “normals” back and not to deal with “new normals”.

Nature’s reset

Everything has a limit and must be realized! Like in calculus, limit of a function is still determined even if “x tends to infinity”. Some religious beliefs and philosophies say that nature decided to limit our ever multiplying desires and unfriendliness towards our own earth. This pandemic might just be an indication that whenever we try to abuse mother nature’s liberties, we will have to pay some consequences.

So much consumption of everything in terms of food, clothes, travel, gadgets, etc., so much greed for money, so much materialism, so much self- centered interests, so much lack of love and respect for each other. These are only some of the vices of the modern society that nature might want to reset!

Here is a section from an article relating to overconsumption of meat and epidemics:

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/future-perfect/2020/4/22/21228158/coronavirus-pandemic-risk-factory-farming-meat

“Some experts have hypothesized that the novel coronavirus made the jump from animals to humans in China’s wet markets, just like SARS before it. Unsurprisingly, many people are furious that the markets, which were closed in the immediate wake of the outbreak in China, are already reopening. It’s easy to point the finger at these “foreign” places and blame them for generating pandemics. But doing that ignores one crucial fact: The way people eat all around the world — including in the US — is a major risk factor for pandemics, too.”

“That’s because we eat a ton of meat, and the vast majority of it comes from factory farms. In these huge industrialized facilities that supply more than 90 percent of meat globally — and around 99 percent of America’s meat — animals are tightly packed together and live under harsh and unsanitary conditions.”

Thousands of lives are lost, millions of people are having difficult times! But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Lives will not return but some losses will be reversed. A lesson learnt hopefully will be remembered so more lives will not be lost in future!

Ending on a positive note

Yes, our lives are stressed out thinking about the pandemic. The virus is scaring almost everyone. Fears are leading to mental problems. Financial problems are mounting day by day. Arranging food has become a challenge. Maintaining enough cleaning supplies at home has become a daily task.

But to wrap it up, think about the little positives. Enjoy those little family moments. We have all the time to play with our kids, talk to them, give them the time for their activities, build that rapport with our teenagers, grow relationships with our loved ones.

Together, we will fight this out! Let’s all be one in this battle against the CoVID-19!

Source: Phillip Goldsberry/Unsplash