Health Updates 30 August 2011

  • Obese baby boomers expected to weigh on Medicare: “Taxpayers will most likely foot the bill as boomers, just starting to turn 65, begin to enroll in Medicare, the federal healthcare plan already struggling to plan for the needs of what many have dubbed a ‘silver tsunami’.  Obesity alone adds $20 billion to $34 billion in extra Medicare costs per year, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Health Affairs.  Another study showed that preventing obesity in one typical 70-year-old could save as much as $39,000 in healthcare costs for the remainder of that senior’s life.” (Miami Herald)
  • New study finds that chocolate consumption lowers risk for heart disease and stroke: “When Franco’s group pooled the data from these studies, they found that people who ate the most chocolate could reduce their risk of heart disease by as much as 37 percent, their risk of diabetes by 31 percent and their risk of stroke by 29 percent, compared with those who ate the least chocolate.  Chocolate had no effect on heart failure risk, however.  It is not clear how much chocolate confers health benefits, Franco said.  There was no way of telling how much chocolate was eaten by those who consumed the most of it, he explained.  However, having chocolate regularly seemed to be important, he said.” (USA Today)
  • Bird flu back again, UN agency warns: “A new vaccine-resistant strain of avian H5N1 influenza has begun circulating in poultry flocks in Vietnam and China, posing ‘unpredictable risks to human health‘ the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Monday….No cases of human infection with the novel strain have yet been reported by the FAO or its sister group, the World Health Organization….The FAO indicated that Vietnam’s veterinary services had been alerted to the threat and the country is ‘reportedly considering a novel, targeted vaccination campaign this fall’.  The new strain is ‘apparently able to sidestep the defenses provided by existing [poultry] vaccines’, the agency said.”  The FAO also indicated that poultry infections are on the rise again.  The most recent human H5N1 infections have been in Egypt, with another small outbreak presently in Cambodia.  Check this site for more info:  (John Gever, MedPage Today)
  • Lawsuit filed against state health agencies for purging VA pension beneficiaries from Medicaid: “But in a lawsuit filed in federal court late Friday, attorneys argue that Czajkowski is one of an untold number of Veterans Affairs pension beneficiaries, living in nursing homes across the state, who have been wrongly purged from the Medicaid rolls, in violation of a 1987 injunction spurred by the lawsuit Mitson vs. Coler.”  (Miami Herald)

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