Tag: "heart disease"

Hits and Misses

heartStunning finding: Saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease.

Laszewski trashes the new Republican health plan.

Johnathan Chait: Is the new Republican plan really a plan or is it just promises, promises?

Are we headed toward a zero marginal cost society?

Should there be special emergency rooms for the elderly?

In five states, an average full-career retiree receives a retirement income higher than his final salary.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

“The doctors were considering giving my mother coronary artery bypass grafts plus the two valve replacement surgeries she’d rejected when she had a far better chance of surviving open-heart surgery in decent shape. My mother seems to be heading down the greased chute toward a series of ‘Hail Mary’ surgeries — risky, painful, dangerous and harrowing, each one increasing the chance that her death, when it came, would take place in intensive care.

“The cost to Medicare would probably have been in the $80,000 to $150,000 range, with higher payments if things had not gone well. More than a third of Medicare patients have surgery in their last year of life, nearly a 10th have surgery in the last month of life, and a fifth die in intensive care.”

Scott Burns reviews Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler.

The Uneasy Case Against Salt: Part Two

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. They say that dietary sodium intake should be reduced to less than 2,300 milligrams per day for the general population, and to less than 1,500 milligrams per day for African Americans, people over 50, and people who have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. This blog has been critical of that determination since early 2009, with posts on the Salt Police, Rejoinder on Salt, The Other Side of the Salt Debate, and The Uneasy Case Against Salt.

The Centers for Disease Control asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine the literature on dietary sodium intake and its effect on health outcomes in the general U.S. population. The May 14, 2013, summary of the IOM consensus report concludes that there is no evidentiary basis for the conclusion that sodium intakes below 2,300 milligrams per day either “increase or decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, or all-cause mortality in the general U.S. population.”

The committee did find some evidence suggesting that sodium intake levels in ranges from 1,500 to 2,300 mg/day may have adverse health consequences for those with diabetes, kidney disease, or cardiovascular disease.

Noting that there is evidence to support a “positive relationship between higher levels of sodium intake and risk of CVD” via the effect of salt intake on the blood pressure of people who have high blood pressure, the IOM calls for “more randomized controlled trials.” The press release for the report says that the report does not establish a health intake range for salt because “variability in the methodologies used among the studies would have precluded it.”

Is Stress More Harmful If You Think It’s Harmful?

Those who said that stress affected their health “a lot or extremely” were 49 percent more likely than other participants to have a heart attack or die of heart disease.

The authors suggest that the perception of the negative effects of stress may increase blood pressure or heart rate, or have indirect effects like increasing smoking or excessive drinking.

Study. (New York Times story.)

The Cost of Being Fat

In the past 30 years, the percentage of American adults who are obese has doubled, driving a sharp rise in such chronic conditions as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

The ramifications for health spending are significant. Annual health costs for obese individuals are more than $2,700 higher than for non-obese people. That adds up to about $190 billion every year. And many of these costs are borne by Medicare, which will spend a half-trillion dollars over the next decade on preventable hospital readmissions alone.

Ken Thorpe and Tommy Thompson in USA Today.

Walking vs. Running to Improve Health, and Other Links

Runners are thiner than walkers; but walking may be better for heart disease.

Good news from Europe: Each generation of Britons is more libertarian than the last and Sweden is leading every other country in privatizing health care.

A free market hospital — in the United States!

How Half the Newly Insured Are Going To Be Insured

Medicaid patients experience significantly more deaths, longer hospitalizations and more serious complications from major surgery, cancers, heart disease, interventional procedures, transplants and AIDS than equivalent patients with the same illnesses and same health status but with private insurance ― objective data-based conclusions proven by medical scientists in the world’s top peer-reviewed medical journals like Annals of Surgery, Cancer, Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation and the American Journal of Cardiology. Medicaid outcomes are so shamefully poor that, when comparing patients with the same risk factors and same health status, Medicaid patients at times even fared worse than those with no insurance at all.

Scott Atlas from USA Today.

Immigrants Are Healthier until They Stay Here a While

As early as the 1970s, researchers found that immigrants lived several years longer than American-born whites even though they tended to have less education and lower income, factors usually associated with worse health. That gap has grown since 1980…Evidence is mounting that the second generation does worse. Exploratory estimates based on data from 2007 to 2009…show that Hispanic immigrants live 2.9 years longer than American-born Hispanics.

[One study] found that immigrants had at least a 20 percent lower overall cancer mortality rate than their American-born counterparts.

Mortality rates from heart disease were about 16 percent lower, for kidney disease 18 percent lower, and for liver cirrhosis 24 percent lower.

This is from The NYT.

Doesn’t Sound like the Cost Curve is Bending

Hospitals hoping to attract patients and build their brands are teaming up with medical-screening companies to promote tests aimed at consumers worried about potentially deadly heart disease or strokes. What their promotions don’t say is that an influential government panel recommends against using many of the tests on people without symptoms or risk factors…

Such screenings “not only can raise [health care] costs, but also can lead to additional testing that is harmful,” [Steven] Weinberger and two co-authors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal in August, calling hospital involvement without disclosing potential downsides “unethical.” (Julie Appleby/Kaiser Health News)

Heart Disease Common in Historic Times, and Other Links

137 mummies from four cultures spanning 4,000 years challenge the widely held assumption that cardiovascular disease is largely a malady of current times.

Internet better than FDA for alerts to drug side effects.

Do animals get all the same diseases as humans?