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Restrictions on J&J vaccine and is smoking and vaping better than just smoking?
Friday Pulse Check
Good morning and happy Friday. Welcome back to the Friday Pulse Check.
In the news…
This is perhaps the biggest medical story of the week. The FDA made the decision because of the risk of rare but serious blood clots. Under the new restrictions, the J&J jab can be given to people who had a severe allergic reaction to one of the other vaccines and cannot receive an additional dose. It can also be given to people who refuse the mRNA vaccines and would otherwise remain unvaccinated. As of mid-March, there have been sixty identified cases of the rare blood clot; that’s about one blood clot case per 3.23 million doses given. Nine of them were fatal. Pfizer and Moderna’s shots are still the most administered in the US. More than 200 million Americans have received one of the mRNA shots compared to only 17 million who have received J&J’s shot.
Among 24,000 men and women, smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes did not reduce the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or any cardiovascular disease when compared to people who only smoked. Normally, I wouldn’t have included this type of article in the news, but we discussed the possibility of the FDA banning or restricting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars on the FLATLINING Podcast this week. Smoking is dangerous and it appears that combining it with vaping is not much better.
You may remember that back in January, a Maryland man had a first-of-its-kind heart transplant. He was given a pig heart. It was a last-ditch, experimental effort to save his life. It was not known if the patient, David Bennett, would survive the surgery, a day, a week, or however long it might be. According to Mr. Bennett’s son, he was aware of this. Mr. Bennett died in March and now doctors have discovered that the pig heart had an animal virus, although they are not sure if this is what caused his death.
It appears our podcast this week caught the attention of one of the authors of the articles we were discussing. We disagreed with an article called “Question Your Doctor” published on RealClear Books and Culture this week written by a physician calling himself (or herself) Paracelsus. The author said on Twitter that he is writing a rebuttal, and all I can say is that we look forward to reading it and his new book that was released this week. He’s also welcome to come on the podcast to discuss his positions with us.
(Click this button to listen to this week’s program)
Also on the FLATLINING Podcast this week, we discussed the downsizing of a Hammond, Indiana hospital and the outrage it has caused in that community. Franciscan Health currently operates a 226-bed hospital there, but by the end of the year, it will be downsized to an emergency room, eight beds, and some outpatient services. The catch is that it is the lowest-rated hospital in the county by Medicare and Franciscan Health operates a newer and better hospital nearby. I wrote about Franciscan Health Hammond earlier this week and explained why the non-profit health system should be applauded for making an economic decision.
If you’re interested in more discussion on healthcare headlines on the FLATLINING Podcast, let us know in the comments below.
Turning to Ukraine, US lawmakers are calling on the Biden Administration to set up field hospitals in the war-torn country. The Russians have launched strikes on hospitals and other non-military targets, severely limiting Ukraine’s ability to care for sick and wounded people. It is an interesting idea, however coming directly from the United States and not from someone like the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders could be seen as the US directly entering the conflict, which President Biden has vowed not to do. Despite the thoughtfulness of the idea, I do not believe we will be seeing US Army CSHs anytime soon (CSH is the replacement for MASH, meaning Combat Support Hospital and Mobile Army Surgical Hospital Respectively). I certainly don’t expect a witty, sometimes serious, army hospital-themed sit-com to come out of the Ukrainian-Russian war either.
Have a good weekend,