Posts Tagged ‘WHO’

Five CHD Questions: Who?

May 9, 2010

Who gets a Congenital Heart Defect? (CHD)

The disease does not discriminate – in the United States, an average of one child out of every 125 live births has a heart defect. In certain locales the number is higher; there is a localized area, or a  “Cluster”, of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) cases in the Baltimore, Maryland area; and in the state of Wisconsin the incidence of CHD averages a staggering 1 in 74  live births. (14 CHD Births per 1000 live births)

Of all the CHD survivors I have had the pleasure to meet, the vast majority of them have been Caucasian. A 2001 study shows that CHD mortality is an average of 19% higher among blacks than it is among whites. Statistical trends showed that the gap did not seem to be closing. A 2008 study surmises that the ability to receive adequate care may contribute to the difference in survival rates. Perhaps the answer is even simpler than that: money.

Being born with a Congenital Heart Defect means that you will need specialized medical care. This care will probably best be provided in a large, specialized hospital far from home, unless you are lucky enough to have a family that resides nearby. Surgery, hospitalization, room and board for the parents are all costs that must be factored in: When I was in the ICU at Johns Hopkins in 1967, the ICU services cost $60 per day. After my 2002 stroke, ICU costs at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta was $2200 per day. Understand that this charge was just for the ICU bed – the actual care (monitors, medications, specialized staff) costs more.

Which begs the question: How many have perished from a heart defect not because of the defect, but because their parents couldn’t afford to go any further than their community hospital?

If the answer to that question is  any number higher than zero, that’s too many.

Flu Update: Thursday Evening, May 14

May 14, 2009

We haven’t heard much from the Swine Flu, A(H1N1), lately. It’s still out there, and we’ve got more resources to track it. Here’s the H1N1 Influenza page from the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s a little heavy on the scientific jargon, but it can be valuable when used with our other flu resources.

Science has an online article about the early lessons we’ve learned from the flu (and they have a good timeline of the outbreak HERE). One really good development has been that most people do not need antiviral medications – you can fight it off with rest and lots of fluids. It seems to be more active than seasonal flu, and compares to the H2N2 virus that caused so much trouble in 1957. China reacted quickly to their first flu cases, and perhaps even overreacted. The Christian Science Monitor has a good article exploring the reasons why.

It’s almost too warm in the Northern Hemisphere for the virus to be able to prosper, and flu season will “end” soon. It won’t really end; the flu will become active in the Southern Hemisphere, where the temperatures are dropping and winter is coming. The news media has pretty much decided that we’re all safe now, and have moved on to the next crisis.

But if H1N1 is going to cause any trouble for the United States next fall, it’ll strengthen in the Southern Hemisphere during our warm months. You’ll notice that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still has its Flu Page active, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is also watching. Live your life and enjoy the summer, but it would be smart to check the CDC and WHO pages occasionally.


April 25, 2009

This is something that you really do need to keep your eyes on, especially if you have a chronic illness: There is a new version of the Swine Flu in Mexico, Texas, and California.

This isn’t just your usual late season flu outbreak. The cases in California and the cases in Mexico are genetically similar, but the cases in Mexico seem to be much worse. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is on alert; the World Health Organization (WHO) is getting involved, and President Obama has been alerted to the situation.

If you’ve ever read Stephen King’s short story Night Surf, the hair on the back of your neck just stood up. Is this the big one? The end of everything? I’m not a doctor and I don’t know… but the people who do know are worried. Thankfully, these “superbugs” tend to burn themselves out pretty quickly; I hope that is what will happen here.

But if you have a chronic illness, you need to take extra precautions. With my bad heart, illnesses take their toll and chest colds really knock me for a loop. I often have to sleep in the recliner for a few nights because I’m too congested to breathe while lying down. And a “average” flu is like a chest cold on steroids with a bad attitude! So wash your hands, leave the area if someone is coughing or sneezing, or even wear a mask if feel that you need to.