Well, we're still in the middle of the fight against COVID-19, and it's hard to predict when we'll have the upper hand. In my opinion, the COVID-19 infection is still out of control, and the way to contain it is to maintain safe distancing (including quarantine when necessary), masks, and vaccination. The vaccines are not yet available to the general public, restricted in each state to pre-defined populations at risk, such as the elderly, healthcare workers and other critical occupations.
In Connecticut, people 65 years and older can now be vaccinated (in addition to health care workers and first responders). This will hopefully be expanded shortly.
As of today, a little less than 10% of US people received their first COVID vaccine, and approximately one third of them received the second dose - WAY TOO SLOW!
All of this behooves each one of us to continue to "stay safe," get tested frequently, and get the vaccination as soon as it is available to you. The two popular and very effective vaccines are the ones by Pfizer and Moderna. The new vaccine by Johnson and Johnson, just becoming available, is a single-shot vaccine, that's a big advantage, but it appears to be a little less effective, at about 66%, compared with the greater-than the 95% effectiveness of the other two. But it's better than not getting it, and, just for comparison, its effectiveness is greater than that of the usual effectiveness of the yearly flu vaccine.
Please give us a call, 203-853-1919, or email if you have any questions about a vaccine.
** Vaccine Eligibility
Need to know if you're eligible to get the vaccine, or where to get it? Here are some important clues:
- Connecticut COVID-19 Response
- For seniors: Your local Senior Center
- Connecticut COVID-19 hot line: call 211 to speak to a real person; call 833-250-7633 for Virtual Assistant (automated responses to a variety of questions).
- Go to United Way COVID hot line or call 877-918-2224.
If you take COVID out of the equation, heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the US, more than 650,000 people a year. But that's not the entire story. Approximately 18 million(!!!) Americans have coronary artery disease (the main precursor of heart attacks), and more than 800,000 people a year have a heart attack, a quarter of which is a silent heart attack - you are not aware you had it, but damage was done. And the economic cost to the patient, the family, and the health system is enormous. Almost one sixth of the health care budget is spent on cardiovascular disease (which includes stroke). The total cost to the economy, including lost productivity costs, was about a billion dollars a day, just before COVID.
Looking at the global picture the numbers in the US are not the worst, neither are they good. Some developed countries are worse, including the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany (and Europe as a whole). Some developed countries are doing better (not by much): Switzerland, France, and Australia. Some of the less developed and Eastern-Asian countries are doing much better than the US: Africa (as a whole), Taiwan, South Korea, and India.
A deeper look into the numbers will convince you that much of the difference is related to lifestyle habit, like the incidence of obesity, lack of exercise, presence of diabetes, and choice of food.
It is well known that faulty lifestyles in the US are responsible for more than 40% of premature deaths, and for a very large percentage of chronic disease. I'll let you draw the conclusion.
We are here not only to treat disease, but to identify the risks for disease development, and prevent it! Need guidance or advice? Call the office (203-853-1919), or email us. We can chat, or set up an appointment (virtual appointments are available).
** For Medicare Patients
Please note that Medicare does not cover nor pay for routine physical examinations. What a shame; when we do a physical exam is the time when we have a chance to look at the body as a whole and minimize the risk of disease. But we have to live within the system and still provide the best care we can.
Medicare will pay for an "Annual Wellness Visit (AWV)" once in 365 days. I must admit that I squeeze as much of the physical exam component into the AWV, and I believe that my patients benefit from it. So, take advantage of the AWV, call the office to schedule.
We are now in the office On Tuesdays and most Thursdays. The rest of the time - telemedicine. If you need a virtual visit, please call us to schedule an appointment (203-853-1919) - See you at the office or on the phone!
Igal Staw, Ph.D., M.D.