The return of the living dea…blog!

by Published on Oct 31, 2021Newsletter0 comments

What to say when you haven’t said anything for a long time? Some say it’s best to pretend nothing happened and carry on, others say you can give an explanation.

Well, I don’t have a great explanation, but here it goes: I tried to maintain the blog while also keeping with the weekly newsletter. Then, I got busier and started posting some of the newsletters as blog posts. Then I got even busier and even the time to convert a newsletter into a blog post, finding images and SEOing it, when I got so little traffic from it was simply not worth it.

Why am I resuscitating the blog now, you may ask? One, it’s a bit sad to have an abandoned blog, and second, I gave a webinar to EMWA members about blogging a while ago, and gave the example of my blog as what not to do. Sigh… The second reason is that I miss it. It’s great to have a group of people whom to write every week, but sometimes I want to reach further. And maybe bring in new people to the mailing list. There you have it, my reasons for writing a new blog post after nearly a year of “silence”.

And what is the newsletter about? Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. When I started, I wanted to write for a broader range of people in the medical and scientific industry, but that never really worked out. Some people joined the newsletter and quickly left, after realising that I tend to gravitate towards medical devices, current medical research, sustainability, and, of course, writing. Every week I share what I find interesting, without any hidden motivations. I don’t sell courses, have no affiliate links, and I receive no commissions. In the end, I’d like to have conversations with people who share my passion for writing, reading, and science stuff 😊

Want to have a glimpse of the current style and content of the newsletter? Below are some snippets of this month’s newsletter. Enjoy!

European Medicines Agency recommendations on COVID-19 boosters

A while ago, someone asked me if I thought boosters would be coming for our population soon. I said I doubted it, since I had just read an article on a medical journal where scientists reiterated that boosters might not be necessary for now. Furthermore, I argued, there were moral considerations regarding giving boosters to people in some countries, while other countries were still struggling to get enough vaccines to give their most vulnerable citizens and health care personnel.

Once again, my forecast was wrong. Maybe I keep missing something, or pinning my reasoning on rationality, despite knowing that humans are rarely so.

Either way, according to a news piece in the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the human medicines committee (CHMP) has concluded that an “extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccines may be given to people with severely weakened immune systems.” Local news outlets already announced that boosters will be given to elderly people, especially those in long-care facilities. While I understand the reasoning and willingness to protect the most vulnerable, I still worry about those in other parts of the world.

Flu and heart disease

Last week, I mentioned that the upcoming flu season is probably going to be one of the biggest of the last few years. Definitely bigger than last year’s, when face masks and disinfectants abounded. So, there’s one reason to get your flu shot, even if you usually don’t take it.

If you still need another reason, the Journal of the American Heart Association gives you one. In this study, the authors focused on the American population, but from my experience in the community pharmacy, it might be the same across the developed countries: younger people tend to not get vaccinated, as they perceive their risk to be lower compared with older people.

But evidence shows that cardiovascular deaths and influenza epidemics spike around the same time, and this is not a coincidence. Patients are six times more likely to experience a heart attack the week after influenza infection than they are at any point during the year prior or the year after the infection. Furthermore, one study looking at 336,000 hospital admissions for flu, 11.5% experienced a serious cardiac event.

This is mainly due to the stress to the cardiovascular system caused by the infection, which can be overwhelming to an already weakened heart muscle. Even in healthy adults, the inflammation that always accompanies an infection stresses the heart and vascular system, increasing the risk of complications.

Get your flu shot, especially this year!

Five tips to write better headlines

While there are many copywriting articles dedicated to the fine art of writing compelling headlines, there are some instances where the art overcomes accuracy, which is a big no-no when writing about health and medical research.

That’s why I find this article published in The Journalist’s Resource so interesting. The author collected insights from three prominent journalists to identify problems they see regularly on health and science news pieces and how to avoid them. I’ll give you the first three in a very abbreviated form, and then you can go and check the rest:

  1. Don’t use hyperboles. Very few things in this world are “life-changing”, and even fewer are “miracles”.
  2. Mice are not people. If a study was conducted in animals, don’t make it look like it was done in humans.
  3. Correlation is not causation. Correlation is not causation. Corre…(you get the point!)

Go check the other two, as well as the rest of the article—it’s a great one.

Reading suggestion

You know I love reading about communication, especially in the field of science. Why do data-driven scientists need to recognise the importance of narrative? And why do so many resist narratives?

Houston, we have a narrative by Randy Olson, is a book that delves into the importance of stories in science and how scientists can communicate better and engage with their audiences.

If you found this interesting, consider subscribing to the newsletter. In the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment below.

Cheers,

Diana

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About Diana Ribeiro

About Diana Ribeiro

Diana Ribeiro is a pharmacist and freelance medical writer based in Cascais, Portugal. Before starting her career in medical writing, Diana worked 10+ years in hospital and community pharmacies, where she helped patients and healthcare professionals with drug management and information. Nowadays, she helps pharma, biotech, and meddev companies communicate with their audiences in a clear, accurate, and compelling way. Diana is an active member of the European Medical Writers Association, where she volunteers for the webinar team. You can find more about her on LinkedIn.

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