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Health Updates 22 November 2011

  • No need to put a salt shaker on the Thanksgiving dinner table: “The traditional Thanksgiving fixings show how easily sodium can sneak into the foods you’d least expect.  Yes, raw turkey is naturally low in sodium.  But sometimes a turkey or turkey breast is injected with salt water to plump it, adding a hefty dose of sodium before it even reaches the store – something you’d have to read the fine print to discover.  From the stuffing mix to the green bean casserole to even the pumpkin pie, a lot of people can reach their daily sodium allotment or more in that one big meal unless the cook employs some tricks.” (Associated Press)
  • Normal or underweight people face a higher risk of death after surgery: “A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight, 25 to 29.9 is overweight, under 18.9 is underweight, and 30 and higher is considered obese.  The percentage of people who died who had a BMI of under 23.1 was 2.8%, but among those with a BMI of 35.3 or higher the rate was far less – 1% – even after adjusting for the risk of death associated with various types of surgery and for other health factors.” (Booster Shots/LA Times)
  • In the ER, the elderly get less pain relief: Older people who go to an emergency room in pain are less likely to get medication for it than younger people with similar levels of distress, a new analysis found….Elderly people who were cognitively impaired or otherwise unable to report pain were not included in the analysis, so that did not explain the finding.  Although the reasons for the difference are unclear, the authors suggested that emergency room personnel may be concerned about adverse effects of pain medications on the elderly, or they  may pay more attention to diagnosis in older patients and less to pain relief.” (NY Times)
  • The collapse of the super committee means an automatic 2% cut in payments to Medicare medical providers: “The reduction in payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers could mean that Medicare beneficiaries find it more difficult to find providers willing to accept them as patients, some provider lobbyists warn.  But few observers think that these automatic cuts are likely to happen, and believe that Congress will instead face pressure to find an alternative – all in the run-up to November 2012 midterm and presidential elections.” (Wall Street Journal)
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