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August 11, 2022 7 mins

The Covid pandemic has changed just about every aspect of Americans’ health, and it has mostly been for the worse.  As people missed health screenings, abandoned routines, and went through isolation we saw a range of other chronic diseases worsen.  Overall death rates of heart disease and stroke rose, drug overdose deaths and alcohol abuse rose, and even mental health took a hit.  Brianna Abbot, health reporter at the WSJ, joins us for more.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
It's Thursday, August eleven. I'm Oscar of Mirrors from the
Daily Dive podcast in Los Angeles, and this is reopening America.
The COVID pandemic has changed just about every aspect of
Americans health, and it has been mostly for the worst.
As people missed health screenings, abandoned routines, and went through isolation.
We saw a range of other chronic diseases worsen. Overall

death rates of heart disease and stroke, rows, drug overdose deats,
and alcohol abuse also rose. Brianna Abbott, health reporter at
The Wall Street Journal, joins us for more. Thanks for
joining us, Brianna, thanks for having me. Well, let's take
a look at how COVID nineteen and the pandemic has
changed Americans health. You know, there's obviously the cheap thing

we were dealing with was the pandemic, this novel virus
that was affecting everybody. And by the time that we
are now we kind of made through the worst of it,
it seems like, hopefully, but it also changed everything else
in the healthcare system. Americans were missing screenings, they abandoned
routine checkups. They've experienced loss and through death and isolation

because of the shutdowns and all that, and so we
saw a range of other chronic diseases and kind of
those numbers start to take up. So, Brianna, for just
kind of a broad overview, what are we looking at here? Yeah,
so we are looking at the pandemic sort of having
these ripple effects into every sort of aspect of health

in America. For the reasons that you talked about, a
lot of people couldn't go anywhere for months, They experienced
loss of loved ones, experience isolation, disruption of routines, missed
healthcare and health systems and public health departments that usually
do a lot of this work were also overrun, so
what they weren't really able to do the level of
work fighting a lot of these other chronic conditions that

they normally do. So that combination really had an impact
on our health. That sort of we're just now starting
to see sort of emerge in the data, because the
data tends to be a couple of years behind, but
you know, we're seeing in everything from heart disease and
strokes to mental health to antimicrobial resistance. So you really
sort of see these impacts across the board and the
tough thing is that a lot of these might not

be so easily reversible. Right if you missed the screening
and you developed a disease or something throughout that time, well,
now you're stuck. Now you have to go for heck
and try to manage it, and it can be very tough.
So let's just run through some of these. You mentioned
heart disease and stroke. So we saw overall death rates
in these sections just rise sharply during the pandemic, definitely.

And the data that we have just to say, the
data that we have runs through that we used in
the study, so it doesn't have the most recent years,
but in the first year of the pandemic, we saw
overall death and death rates from heart disease and stroke
rise pretty sharply, and that sets back progress against two
of the nation's leading killers in the US. Part of
it how to do with, you know, missing doctor's visits

earlier on when things were shut down and the virus
was really overwhelming hospitals. People didn't want to go, even
even though you know you should if you're you're having
a heart attack. So you know, some people that at
home and cood infections themselves sort of also increased the
risk for stroke and heart attack, and on top of that,
going forward, people have been under more stress generally in
the past few years and haven't been as active, so

doctors are sort of really trying to help and want
people to get back to sort of managing their chronic
conditions and in their hearthoups as well. Let's talk about
drug and alcohol use, because very early on in the pandemic,
we're hearing a lot of stories about people, you know,
we were shut down, people were staying home, using a
lot more recreational drugs, drinking a lot more. That was
a huge one. So that's been a pretty big issue

that people have had to deal with throughout the pandemic.
You're right, we saw drinking sort of increase in the
early months of the pandemic, and a recent report showed that,
you know, alcohol related deaths increased about from it has
been rising before that, but this was sort of a
bare jump and the same thing we've unfortunately open to

overdose this so we knew that those were increasing sort
of prior to the pandemic as well. In a lot
of these for instance, the pandemic didn't necessarily start new
health problems. They just exacerbated ones that were already existing,
and that unfortunately includes the opioid epidemic as well. Let's
talk real quick about superbugs, because this is that we
just saw a study come out recently talking about how

antibiotics were overused early on in the pandemic. Nobody really
knew how to treat covid so they were throwing everything
that they could at them. They were throwing a lot
of antibiotics at people, and that really just kind of
fueled the strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria out there. Just
over prescribing them just kind of leading us down that path. Definitely.
It's a combination of that, like using antibiotics incorrectly to

treat covidations before we knew more. Plus they were worried
that covidations would have co infections with some other bacteria,
which happened sometimes in the hospital, So there was that
fear that also sort of led to to over prescribing.
And then also a lot of these hospitals in the
health centers were really just overstretched, and so a lot
of the prevention efforts that they usually have to sort

of keep you know, these infections on a minimum lift
a little bit so that also caused an impact. In
addition to the overprescribing, we just saw the overwhelming of
healthcare systems sort of impact their prevention efforts. Mental health,
now that's been a huge one. We've been hearing a
lot about that. Obviously, adults had a very serious time
throughout the pandemic, but particularly children and adolescents had a

really hard time being disrupted with their school schedules in
and out, and they've had a particularly tough time too. Definitely,
that is a huge incern and sort of like the
other topics we've been talking about there before the pandemic,
and then the pandemic definitely added fuel to fire to
the mental health process that we're experiencing in the US,
especially among younger children. And there were some third, like

one third of some seven bottlesom the US High School
Student Survey responded to a CDC questionnaire saying that they
had reported poor mental health in the pen DMIC. So
it's like really a significant proportion of folks and so
hopefully that's one of the things that as big attach
a school and sort of get back into more routines,
that there's sort of health there and that starts to

improve but you know a lot of them also faced
not only social isolation, but like economic hardship and sort
of family laws or illness as well. So it was
really a tough time for the use and sort of
hopefully that can sort of be one of the things
that hopefully rebounds. Yeah, I mean, as you mentioned, you know,
the pandemic just kind of through everything for a loop,

and we've seen all these changes affected everywhere. There was
increased firearm debts, increase in sexually transmitted infections, childhood vaccination
rates slowed down just a little bit, so really touching
every part of American's health. The pandemic has has made
an impact in one way or another. Brianna Abbott, health
reporter at the Wall Street Journal, thank you very much

for joining us. Thanks for having me. I'm Oscar Ramirez
in this has been reopening America. Don't forget the effort.
Today's big news stories. You can check me out on
the Daily Dive podcast every money through Friday, So follow
us and I Heart Radio or wherever you get your podcast.
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