“Stop focusing on the negative and look at how many people are helped by the VA.”
In a very contentious political year, when candidates of both parties seem to be trying to make us sick so they can demonstrate how they plan to make us better, optimism can be hard to maintain.
WASHINGTON — With more data from more than 400,000 veterans, the VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP) is expanding further as one of the world’s largest medical databases.
Older veterans have a significantly elevated risk of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, likely related to increased exposure to the known risk factors of cigarette smoking and environmental dust. New research is looking at genetic predispositions that might help predict which patients are likely to have progression of the devastating disease. That also could provide new targets for pharmacotherapies.
With all of the difficulties faced by veterans with multiple sclerosis, mobility-related and otherwise, they certainly don’t need anything else to worry about. Yet, new research documents that their risk of developing a serious infection or dying from that infection is significantly higher than patients without the neurological condition.
SEATTLE — While multiple sclerosis patients get some of the same benefits from exercise as everyone else, physical activity also can help them manage many symptoms of their disease.
While both the VA and the DoD have dramatically decreased narcotic prescriptions for chronic pain, a subset of patients, including many wounded warriors, still requires opioid medications to get relief from intractable pain. A new study offers advice on how to do that while reducing the risk of death and addiction.
VA oncologists treating renal cell carcinoma had relatively few tools in their arsenal until fairly recently. During the past decade, the influx of newer treatments has dramatically changed how the kidney cancer is diagnosed and treated, however, and patients are increasingly optimistic about progression-free survival.
The VA treats more than a million patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, so it is little surprise that COPD is the first diagnosis that comes to mind when a veteran presents with breathing difficulties. The problem is that the diagnosis isn’t always correct. To remedy the situation, the VA is making spirometry more widely available across the healthcare system.
Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are among the signature injuries for the nation’s youngest veterans. The legacy of those conditions goes beyond the most obvious, however. TBI and PTSD are being partly blamed for the proliferation of epilepsy and other seizure disorders in VHA patients under 45.
DALLAS — Imagine if a device could restore memory in veterans who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and subsequently developed epilepsy.
SILVER SPRING, MD — For almost 20 years, veterans and the service organizations that represent them have lobbied Congress and the VA to recognize a link between immunizations received in military service using jet injectors and the high rate of infection with hepatitis C among veterans.
With extremely limited treatment options in the past for renal cell carcinoma, there wasn’t much impetus to employ biopsy at the VA. Knowing more about the tumors wasn’t very usual without good options to help the patients.
While therapies based on the biology of bipolar disorder might take years to develop, some veterans are finding help living with and managing their disorder through telemedicine.
Veterans with certain types of soft-tissue sarcoma have been eligible for VA compensation and medical treatment for 25 years, due to its link to Agent Orange Exposure. During that time, the cancer has remained rare — and so have significant treatment advances. In 2016, however, new research and drug approvals have opened up better options for STS and its subtypes, such as liposarcoma.
Of all psychiatric illnesses, bipolar disorder is the one most strongly associated with veteran suicide, according to VA research.
Presumptively caused by Agent Orange exposure, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma occurs disproportionately among male veterans. Complicating the clinical approach, the disorders comprising CTCL are similar but differ greatly in response to therapy. New genomic research on the rare cancer, however, is holding out promise for better, more-customized treatment.
High-tech monitoring in an intensive care unit saves lives by letting hospital medical staff know immediately when a patient is in trouble. Managed incorrectly, however, the constant beeping can create “alarm fatigue” and result in medical errors. The answer, according to a nursing team at San Antonio Medical Center, was using the technology appropriately by customizing the alarms for each patient’s situation.
Even though therapies that achieve sustained virologic response in about 90% of hepatitis C patients have been available for several years, the VA wasn’t able to use them universally and instead had to set treatment priorities because of limited resources. The situation has changed, thanks to increased funding and reduced drug prices, so that all VA patients with HCV now will receive the most-effective treatment.
Patients with familial hypercholesterolemia post extremely high cholesterol levels, even with lifestyle changes and statin therapy, while other patients must discontinue statin treatment because of side effects or intolerance or inability to achieve the desired effect, even on maximum dosages. A new class of drugs to lower LDL-C, injectable monoclonal antibodies that inhibit the PCSK9 protein, is a significant addition to therapies.
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