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What did fmr. US surgeon general and WISH med. expert say about loneliness

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Widespread loneliness in the U.S. poses health risks as deadly as smoking a dozen cigarettes daily, costing the health industry billions of dollars annually, the U.S. surgeon general said Tuesday in declaring the latest public health epidemic.

Dr. Jerome Adams, the WISH-TV medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general, weighed in on the report from the office of Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Adams said Thursday on News 8, “The big takeaway is that, even before the pandemic, we knew that about 1 in 2 adults reported loneliness. That’s significant in and of itself. But, what a lot of people don’t realize is this isn’t just about your emotional well-being or even mental health concerns. This actually is translating into physical health problems.”

Those problems include a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults, and a 60% increased risk of premature death.

“The report says up to half of all adults report feeling lonely. It’s hard to write a prescription to fix that,” Adams said.

What’s a solution? Reach out and call family members.

Adams said, “That connectedness actually helps you and helps them put down the phone, or at least realize how much time you’re spending on digital devices, and that’s something that Dr. Murphy highlights, things that we thought were connecting us. These social media accounts often cause us to be isolated and more withdrawn, and, from a societal point of view, he talks about making sure we’re strengthening social infrastructure, building parks, libraries, places where people can come together instead of what we have right now, people isolating at home by themselves.”

“I want to highlight to people that being lonely is not the same thing as being alone. Some people need to be alone to recharge. They’re introverts. That is OK. But when it’s getting to the point that you’re not talking to people at all, that you feel like you’re lonely, that’s when this becomes problematic.”

Keeping COVID at bay

Dr. Deborah Birx, who Adams worked with on President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 task force, says she believes the coronavirus will eventually evade Paxlovid, which he says is one of the last treatments for the ailment. Adams agreed with Birx, and added that deaths from the coronavirus could double without continued medical innovations.

Resources to keep developing treatments ahead of the coronavirus are the answer, he says.

“We need to make sure we’re innovating in a way that will allow us to continue to live with the virus but live safely and not that people are going to be harmed or die because we haven’t put in the investment and the resources to develop therapies for people who get sick or who are vulnerable.” Right. It sounds like there may be more work ahead for scientists.”

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.