[COLUMN] Vital medical data

OSA hazardous

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) “recommends the use of home sleep apnea testing or polysomnography for adults with daytime sleepiness or unrefreshing sleep, or other signs and symptoms that raise suspicion of moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).”

OSA is a condition where a person involuntarily holds his breath for a prolonged period of time (a dozen or hundred times) while asleep, resulting in low blood oxygen level, depriving vital organs of essential oxygen. OSA increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. About 80 percent of these individuals do not even know they have OSA.

The incidence of OSA around the world is about 936 million – 22 million in the United States, and about 4 million in the Philippines. In the U.S., OSA is estimated to be at 27 percent among men and about 16 percent among women. Obesity is a factor. Undiagnosed OSA is dangerous to health.

Whether snoring or not, if you usually have unrestful sleep, tired when you wake up and feeling “blah” or fatigued by early to mid-afternoon, consult with your physician, who would evaluate you and possibly refer you to a Pulmonologist-Sleep expert for a sleep study or home sleep apnea (self) testing.

Lessons from COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. As of February 4, the average daily infection rate was 40,680, average daily death rate of 458 (a day!), average hospitalization rate at 30,815, and 10 percent positivity testing rate, according to the New York Times tracker.

The current dominant subvariant, responsible for most COVID-19 infections is XBB.1.5, causing 66 percent of the cases, followed by the BQ.1.1, 20 percent. The original omicron variant is gone, leaving its subvariants: XBB.1., BQ.1., and BQ.1.

With the arrogant posture and carelessness of a number of politicians and some people inspiring society to lower its guard, COVID-19 will linger with us for an unforeseen future.

As long as we, as a nation and as a people, refuse to adhere strictly to science and the principles epidemiology in dealing with infectious diseases like COVID-19, and are willing to temporarily give up some civil liberties like the right to choose in order to save lives, we will never be ready and prepared for any future epidemic or pandemic.

We have had more than a million lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States. If the government and our people continue to do the same in the next killer infectious disease we may encounter, and not learn from our COVID-19 experience, many more millions will die, and the U.S. economy may not survive (to recover) the next time around.

Lower COVID mortality

Recent studies have shown that those in health care (physicians, nurses, techs, aides, etc.) have a significantly lower COVID infection rate, hospitalization, and deaths, compared to the general population.

“Obviously, some of this is due to higher income, access to care, and other socioeconomic factors, but it’s also likely much of this protection came from workplace policies, such as use of personal protective equipment, vaccination requirements, infection prevention protocols, and other protective measures.” reported Mathew Kiang, ScD, MPH, of Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues, in MedPageToday.

Indeed, personal hygiene, masking distancing, and especially vaccination, are effective in preventing infections and deaths, even with the current XBB.1 and XBB.1.5 subvariants.

Life is precious, and we’ve got only one. Let’s not play Russian Roulette with it.

Dangerously unprepared

All countries are “dangerously unprepared for future pandemics,” according to a report in Geneva (Reuters) by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) published on recently, “calling on countries to update their preparedness plans by year-end.” The COVID pandemic has so far killed more people than any earthquake, drought or hurricane in history, says the IFRC in its World Disaster Report 2022.

In the United States, the main problem is the conflict between strict implementation of the evidence-based long-proven epidemiologic protocol in fighting infectious disease and the constitutional rights of the people, who are invoking the freedom to choose (not to use mask, not to social distance, not to get the vaccines) and co-mingle with the rest of the population, many with subclinical COVID-19 or viral carriers, spreading the viruses to others.

Strictly speaking, to prevent transmission and save lives, the medical protocol calls for separation of those who have been vaccinated, those wearing masks and doing social distancing, those who are not carriers or infected FROM those refusing the above mitigation measures and demanding to have the freedom to choose what “to do with my own body,” as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Since the physical (geographical) separation of these two groups are not realistic, practical, nor feasible, the only option are federal mandates for these mitigating measures, especially vaccination. Those who refuse should stay home and not mingle with the rest of society until the pandemic is contained. This is an epidemiologic protocol to follow if we are to prevent the death of a million or more people. We must be understanding and compassionate enough to agree to temporarily waive our civil rights and follow the mandates to help save lives.

Of course, I am talking strictly medical and scientific here (no politics), highlighting the same principles and practices in infection wards in all medical centers around the world, [which is] strict isolation. Unless we are willing to do this constitutional sacrifice and implement strict epidemiologic protocols, our efforts in our war against any infectious disease in the future will certainly fail (as we did with COVID-19) to prevent a million deaths or greater. Doing the same and expecting a better result is certainly being foolish, if not stupid, to say the least.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He was a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1995. Other Sagamore past awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Muhammad Ali, and Astronaut Gus Grissom (Wikipedia). Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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