New York City Ebola Doctor Slams Media And Governors Christie And Cuomo Reply

The response in the US to the Ebola crisis last year brought out the worst in the media and our politicians. By comparison, our response to the recent measles crisis– by no means a model for public health communication– had the sophistication and intelligence of a debate at the Oxford Union.

One of the chief victims of the hysteria was Craig Spencer, a New York City emergency room physician who caught Ebola while volunteering in Africa. When he first developed Ebola symptoms after his return to New York City he went straight to the hospital, where he eventually recovered after a harrowing illness. No one– neither his fiancee nor any of the people he interacted with in the days and hours before developing symptoms– caught Ebola from him. Every public health expert said that his behavior was exemplary.

But, as we all know, he did not receive praise in the media, or by the governors of New York and New Jersey. Instead, along with other healthcare workers who heroically went to Africa to help fight the epidemic, he was denigrated and condemned.

Now, months later, Spencer has presented his perspective on these events in an article in the New England Journal of MedicineWe should pay attention to his words. Here are a few excerpts, but by all means click over to NEJM and read the whole thing.

I understand the fear that gripped the country after I fell ill, because I felt it on a personal level. People fear the unknown, and fear in measured doses can be therapeutic and inform rational responses, but in excess, it fosters poor decision making that can be harmful. After my diagnosis, the media and politicians could have educated the public about Ebola. Instead, they spent hours retracing my steps through New York and debating whether Ebola can be transmitted through a bowling ball. Little attention was devoted to the fact that the science of disease transmission and the experience in previous Ebola outbreaks suggested that it was nearly impossible for me to have transmitted the virus before I had a fever. The media… fabricated stories about my personal life and the threat I posed to public health, abdicating their responsibility for informing public opinion and influencing public policy.

Meanwhile, politicians, caught up in the election season, took advantage of the panic to try to appear presidential instead of supporting a sound, science-based public health response. The governors of New York and New Jersey, followed by others, enacted strict home quarantine rules without sufficiently considering the unintended side effects…. At times of threat to our public health, we need one pragmatic response, not 50 viewpoints that shift with the proximity of the next election….

Instead of being welcomed as respected humanitarians, my US colleges who have returned home from battling Ebola have been treated as pariahs….

When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we’ll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond– and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did. I know how real the fear of Ebola is, but we need to overcome it. We all lose when we allow irrational fear, fueled in part by prime-time ratings and political expediency, to supersede pragmatic public health preparedness.

 

 

Advertisements

Common Pain Drugs Linked To More Problems After A Heart Attack Reply

The cardiovascular safety of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and diclofenac has been the subject of considerable uncertainty and controversy. Now a new study published in JAMA raises specific concerns about the safety of these drugs in the highly vulnerable population of people who have had a recent heart attack.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes, including comments from Peter Berger and Sanjay Kaul.

 

Everybody Into The Sauna? 1

Spending more time in the sauna may lead to a longer and healthier life– at least if you live in Finland, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Finnish researchers analyzed data from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The new analysis focused on 2,315 middle-aged men who had 1, 2-3, or 4-7 sauna bathing sessions per week. After 20 years of followup the rate of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality was significantly reduced in people who used the sauna more often.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes, including comments from Franz Messerli, Harlan Krumholz, and John Ryan…

 

800px-Smoke_sauna

Medtronic And Boston Scientific Plan To Resume Blood Pressure Trials This Year Reply

Medtronic and Boston Scientific have announced plans to start phase 2 clinical trials this year for their updated renal denervation catheters. The once promising new technology is intended to treat hypertension unresponsive to drug therapy. The failure last year of Medtronic’s Symplicity HTN-3, the first large pivotal trial to rigorously test renal denervation, sent manufacturers back to their drawing boards to redesign the devices.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

No, The New Cholesterol Drugs From Sanofi And Amgen Aren’t Going To Cost $150 Billion A Year Reply

In an article on the Health Affairs blog 4 CVS executives speculate that the new cholesterol lowering PCSK9 inhibitors from Amgen and Sanofi might achieve yearly sales of $150 billion or even higher. I think these numbers are a bit silly. But first let’s take a look at their extremely bullish case….

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Amgen Door Hanger

More Guideline Controversy: The Tricky Business Of Calculating Cardiovascular Risk Reply

Calculating cardiovascular risk has become a central and highly controversial component of cardiovascular guidelines. Now a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that most of the commonly employed tools seriously overestimate the risk of people today.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

Very Simple High-Fiber Diet Stands Up To American Heart Association Diet Reply

Diets notoriously fail to help people lose a lot of weight. One problem is that most diets include a broad range of restrictions and guidelines that many people find difficult to follow. Another problem is that negative recommendations may have unintended consequences, such as low-fat recommendations leading to increased consumption of refined carbohydrates. Now a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that a radically simple diet containing only one positive rule — eat more fiber — might be nearly as effective and much easier to swallow than a more traditional complex diet.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Three Trials Show Benefits Of Thrombectomy In Stroke Patients Reply

Three new studies offer important additional evidence that early treatment with current thrombectomy devices that extract clots from blood vessels in the brain can lead to improved outcomes in carefully selected stroke patients. The trials were stopped early based on efficacy following positive findings last year from another trial, MR CLEAN. The three new trials were presented today at the AHA/ASA International Stroke Conference in Nashville; two of the trials were published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

New US Guidelines Will Lift Limits On Dietary Cholesterol Reply

The influential  Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended that limitations on dietary cholesterol be removed from the upcoming 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Recommendations to reduce dietary cholesterol have been a mainstay of the USDA and other guidelines for many years, starting with guidelines from the American Heart Association in the 1960s.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

 

Another Study Raises Questions About Blood Pressure Guidelines Reply

Although the general benefits of lowering high blood pressure are widely accepted, there has been intense debate over specific goals for treatment and the threshold at which therapy should be initiated.  A large new meta-analsysis published in JAMA helps shed lights on this important controversy.

UK and Australian researchers analyzed the effect of lowering blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes using data from more than 100,00 people who participated in 40 trials.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

New Heart Drug From Novartis: Will It Raise The Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease? Reply

LCZ696 is a heart failure drug from Novartis that many observers think will gain FDA approval later this year and go on to become a blockbuster. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the drug’s success is the fear that it might raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Now a new article in a top cardiology journal lays out the detailed basis for this concern. The authors do not contend that the Alzheimer’s issue will likely ruin the drug’s chances, but they do maintain that the problem needs to be carefully monitored.

I spoke with Milton Packer, the co-principal investigator of PARADIGM-HF, the mega trial that set off the mega excitement about the drug last year. He offers several persuasive arguments that Alzheimer’s disease won’t be the Achilles’ heel of LCZ696.

But first let’s look at the paper…

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Novel Device Offers Hope For Heart Patients With No Alternatives Reply

An entirely predictable consequence of medical progress is the growing number of heart patients with persistent and symptomatic angina who have run out of treatment options. A small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine raises the possibility that a new and novel device one day may provide them some relief. The experimental device, called the Neovasc Reducer, is a coronary sinus reducer system. It is delivered through a catheter to the coronary sinus, where it is then expanded with a balloon, blocking flow through most of the vessel except for a small central orifice. Once in place the device causes an increase in coronary sinus pressure that appears to relieve angina, though the authors acknowledge that the “physiological rationale for a beneficial effect… remains unclear.”

Investigators in the Coronary Sinus Reducer for Treatment of Refractory Angina (COSIRA) trial studied 104 patients with angina class III or IV angina who were not considered suitable candidates for revascularization.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

No, Too Much Jogging Probably Won’t Kill You 1

One again lazy health journalists have fallen down on the job and performed a disservice to the public. The new outrage: a multitude of media reports about a small study on the effect of jogging on mortality. Here are just a few headlines, published minutes after the study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology:

But a careful reading of the paper shows that this small study provides nowhere near enough evidence to support these headlines.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

jacc_ci_021015_schnohr