Sleep apnea update: Whether or not you personally know someone who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan or someplace else on foreign soil, our returning veterans deserve our help and attention. While many have the scars of physical injury, many more veterans bear silent scars. A growing number of veterans are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and its symptoms can be devastating for our returning war heroes as they readjust to civilian life.
Consider these statistics: According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), one out of every five war veterans has been diagnosed with OSA — compared with only five out of 100 civilians in the general population. And between 2008 and 2010, the number of veterans who received medical benefits related to sleep apnea grew by 61 percent, from 39,145 cases in 2008 to 63,118 cases in 2010. Some VA doctors believe that it is due to the high number of repeat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan — soldiers are being exposed to higher levels of dust, smoke, stress and violence.
But what is at the core of this connection between war, OSA and other related conditions, such as daytime sleepiness, memory loss, a decrease in work productivity, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension? Researchers at the Wayne State University (WSU) School of Medicine are beginning to find out. Since the mid-2000s, WSU researchers have been studying “145 American immigrants who left Iraq before the 1991 Gulf War and 205 who fled Iraq after the Gulf War began.” All lived in the Detroit area at the time, and were asked about “socio-demographics, pre-migration trauma, how they rated their current health, physician-diagnosed and physician-treated OSA and any somatic and psychosomatic disorders.”
The study’s lead investigator, Bengt Arnetz, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., School of Medicine professor of occupational and environmental health and deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Wayne State, said, “It may be the stress of war that leads to fractured sleep, and that no one had explored this possible link before, although basic research suggests it as plausible.”
The research showed that: Those who left Iraq after the war began and suffered from mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression and self-rated their physical health as worse than their actual health were 43 times more likely than pre-Gulf War immigrants to report OSA and later develop major chronic health issues, such as cardiovascular disease.
On the results, Arnetz said, “It’s a known fact that the more exposure to violence you have, the more likely you are to report post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, and the worse your self-rated health is, the more likely your actual health will suffer in five to 10 years. And I reiterate, those who were exposed to the violence of the war in Iraq were almost twice as likely to experience PTSD and depression, but also obstructive sleep apnea and other chronic health conditions. I applaud Arnetz and his colleagues’ efforts and encourage them to continue their studies so that we in the medical community can better understand, diagnose and treat war- and stress-related health conditions.”
What about treatment? Diagnosing OSA in veterans can be trickier than non-veterans because of the possibility of other military-related medical conditions, such as PTSD. In addition, some military veterans suffering from OSA may underestimate the health benefits of restorative sleep, rather than be properly diagnosed and treated since its common during deployment to have fractured sleep patterns. The good news is that there is more awareness of OSA than ever before, especially within the military. Back in February 2012, Ventus Medical, the company that makes Provent Therapy, announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs approved a multi-year, Federal Supply Schedule contract that would enable more veterans to get Provent Therapy treatment — a small, non-invasive nasal device for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is good timing, considering that a substantial percentage of veterans don’t accept or adhere to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, even though it is a safe and effective treatment.
According to Richard B. Berry, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Florida, “There is a great need for access to new, clinically-proven therapies — particularly easy-to-use treatments — for the increasing number of veterans with obstructive sleep apnea. As more and more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are realizing their post-war health problems, and because many Vietnam veterans are getting older, the number of veterans applying for OSA-related disability benefits will only continue to rise in the coming years. While OSA is a chronic condition creating a significant burden on the Veterans Healthcare System — the VA spends upward of $500 million a year to treat veterans with sleep apnea — I believe that it is our duty as a nation to provide proper OSA treatment to our veterans to prevent additional chronic health issues.”
To read more about the study, go to the Wayne State University website www.research.wayne.edu/news.php?id=10137. [Source: Huffington Post | Dr. David Volpi | 8 Nov 2012]
Sequestration update: Lawmakers hear the clock ticking toward deep defense and domestic spending cuts, and senior members of both parties appear poised to pass a measure during a lame duck session that would add additional time to that clock. Senior congressional Democrats and Republicans are talking openly about kicking down the road the date that would trigger separate $500 billion, 10-year cuts to planned defense and domestic spending.
Senate Budget Committee member Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Nov. 8 that lawmakers hope to “make a down payment” during a coming session-ending lame duck period “to avoid sequestration.” He was referring to a budgeting tactic to reduce nonexempt defense and domestic accounts on Jan. 2 short of a $1.2 trillion debt-paring bill or a measure that extends the sequester countdown clock. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also continues talking about the need to delay those cuts, which economists say — when coupled with expiring tax cuts — could send the U.S. economy into a new recession. “Lame duck Congresses aren’t known for doing big things and probably shouldn’t do big things, so I think the best you can hope for is a bridge,” Boehner told CNN on Nov. 4.
Lawmakers during the lame duck period would have just a few weeks to pass a deficit-cutting bill that would have to cover defense spending, tax reform, domestic entitlement program reform and a score of other prickly, complex issues. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), House Budget Committee vice ranking member, also has recently called for a short-term delay. Speaking at a forum in Washington on Oct. 16 Schwartz said it would be “very tough” for Congress to pull off such Herculean work in just six weeks. She called on lawmakers to try to pass a smaller legislative package that deals with “the things we agree on,” such as extending middle class tax cuts enacted during the George W. Bush administration and establishing a sustainable growth rate for the Medicare program.
Boehner, in remarks the day after President Barack Obama’s larger-than-predicted Nov. 7 re-election win, sounded ready to cut a deal on a massive debt-cutting bill soon after the new Congress is seated. “Mr. President, this is your moment,” Boehner said. “We are ready to be led.” But Boehner wants that Obama leadership to occur after the new Congress takes office in January, hence the need for a sequester delay. Just hours after an election that gave Obama a second term and saw Democrats gain House and Senate seats, Boehner was talking about the kind of “big deal,” as Obama often calls it, which would include tax reform, some new revenues and entitlement program changes. But the new Congress should write it, Boehner said, because “it will take some time.”
The across-the-board cuts, which would total about $109 billion in fiscal 2013, are required by last year’s Budget Control Act unless Congress and the White House come up with another path to reducing future budget deficits by $1.2 trillion through 2021. For most defense programs, sequestration would mean a 9.4 percent cut for fiscal 2013, while domestic discretionary accounts would take an 8.2 percent hit, according to an OMB overview released in September. Military personnel and the Veterans Affairs Department would be exempted, according to the White House. [Source: Defense News | John T. Bennett | 8 Nov 2012]
Mojave desert veteran memorial update: It’s been a long legal battle that lasted more than a decade, but now, Henry and Wanda Sandoz of Yucca Valley will finally be able to keep a promise they made to a dying friend and veteran nearly 30 years ago. “We really loved him,” said Wanda in a phone interview. “It was really important for us to keep that promise to him. And to show we love our veterans and our country.” On Veterans Day, the Sandozes will be able to legally re-erect a simple 7-foot cross on Sunrise Rock east of Baker in the Mojave National Preserve. The Sandozes met and became good friends with Riley Bembry, one of the World War I veterans who first placed the cross on Sunrise Rock in 1934 as a way to honor the veterans of that war. When Bembry became ill and frail, he asked Henry to watch over the cross. Henry agreed. Bembry died a short time later in 1984. “It means very much to me, yes, and also to our veterans and our Lord and Savior,” said Henry,
The cross had become the focus of a legal case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2000. The ACLU sued the federal government, asking that the cross be removed because the Christian symbol on federal land violated the First Amendment, prohibiting the government from endorsing any religion. Soon the Liberty Institute in Plano, Tex., took up the cause for the Sandozes. “If they hadn’t come in on this we probably wouldn’t have won,” Wanda. In 2002, the U.S. District Court Central District of California ruled in the ACLU’s favor and the cross was encased in wood until an agreement could be reached. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned previous the ruling calling for the cross to be removed and sent the case back down to the U.S. District Court level. A little more than a week after the ruling, the cross vanished. A replacement cross reappeared shortly after, but it was removed.
“We had people from all over the country offering us big granite crosses as replacements,” Wanda said. “It was tempting, but we thought the cross should stay as the veterans wanted. Just a simple 7-foot white cross made of pipe,” said Henry.
Earlier this year, a land swap was approved in which the Sandozes gave five acres of land to the Mojave Preserve in exchange for the one acre where the cross once sat. The land swap, putting the cross on private property, was finalized Nov. 2.
“We’re both just so happy that this is finally behind us,” Wanda said. “It’s been a 13-year battle. Henry had a big heart attack six or seven years ago and it’s been a real concern that he was going to die before he saw this resolved.” For Henry, it’s not only about keeping a promise to a friend, but honoring those who have served. “Not having served, this is a way for me to give something back to them,” he said. [Source: San Bernardino County Sun | Beatriz E. Valenzuela | 5 Nov2012]
Dementia update: In a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, older, non-disabled people who regularly engaged in physical activity reduced their risk of vascular-related dementia (loss of memory) by 40 percent and cognitive impairment of any etiology by 60 percent. The protective effect of regular physical activity remained regardless of age, education, changes in the brain’s white matter and even previous history of stroke or diabetes , researchers said. The findings are based on a prospective multinational European study that included yearly comprehensive cognitive assessments for three years. The results are part of increasing evidence that regular physical activity promotes brain health, researchers said.
The analysis included 639 people in their 60s and 70s; 55 percent were women and almost 64 percent said they were active at least 30 minutes a day three times a week. The activity included gym classes, walking and biking. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise for optimal health. Researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests at the beginning and end of the study to gauge white matter changes in the brain, an indicator of possible cognitive decline.
“Damage of the cerebral white matter is implicated in cognitive problems including depression, walking difficulties and urinary complaints,” Verdelho said. “White matter changes are very common in older people and mainly associated with vascular risk factors like hypertension and stroke.”
Throughout the study, researchers asked participants in phone interviews and clinical visits about depression, quality of life and performing everyday activities. At the end of the follow-up, 90 patients had dementia, including 54 with vascular dementia in which impaired blood flow to the brain causes cognitive decline, and 34 patients met criteria for Alzheimer’s disease. Another 147 patients developed cognitive impairment, but not dementia. [Source: American Heart Association article 1 Nov 2012]
Flags: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and S.C. State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags; the cost is $5.
American Legion Post 70 - Meeting at 1800 on the third Tuesday of the month. For more information, please contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
American Legion Post 24, of Newberry, meeting is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1830. The American Legion Auxiliary – unit 24 meet the same day at 3 p.m. at Post 24.