Health Updates 16 June 2011

  • Federal government to release plan to urge healthier lifestyles: “Americans’ life expectancy may be 78 years, but a new report says that only 69 of those years tend to be healthy ones – and the problems can start long before people reach a doctor’s office.  The Obama administration is releasing a plan Thursday that calls for preventing disease and injury, with a greater emphasis on creating healthier homes, communities, foods, roads and workplaces”. (Associated Press)
  • Life expectancy in US lags behind global rates: Life expectancy at birth for American men was 75.6 years and 80.8 for women in 2007 – 36th and 33rd in the world – with wide variation from county to county, researchers said.  ‘The US picture, with its remarkable combination of poor health outcomes despite the highest levels of health spending per capita, is even more stark and disturbing when examined at the local level’,” observed Dr. Christopher Murray, University of Washington in Seattle.  More than 85% of American counties have fallen even further behind the international life expectancy frontier – considered by Murray to be “a staggering statistic”. (Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today)
  • Olive oil protects against stroke: “After controlling for diet, lifestyle and stoke-risk factors, they found that ‘intensive’ olive oil users (those who used it for cooking and dressing their food) had a 41% reduced risk of ischemic (the kind caused by an artery blockage) stroke during the five-year follow-up period than those who reported using no olive oil at all”.  (Associated Press)
  • As number of Medicaid patients goes up, their benefits are about to drop: “The Obama administration injected billions of dollars into Medicaid, the nation’s low-income health program, as the recession deepened two years ago.  The money runs out at the end of this month, and benefits are being cut for millions of people, even though unemployment has increased….As a result, costs can be expected to rise in other parts of the health care system.  Cuts in Medicaid payments to doctors, for example, make it less likely that they will accept Medicaid patients and more likely that people will turn to hospital emergency rooms for care.  Hospitals and other health care providers often try to make up for the loss of Medicaid revenue by increasing charges to other patients, including those with private insurance, experts say”. (Robert Pear, NY Times)

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