Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Health Care Potpourri

Updates from the health care world:

1. Back Pain- A study published in JAMA yesterday reveals that despite a 65% inflation-adjusted increase in spending on back pain and medications, to $86 billion, the percentage of people with back and neck pain that limited function increased from 21 to 26% between 1997 to 2005.

Most of the expenditures were on pain killers like Oxycontin. I guess the solution would be more preventive care and less "reactive care" (waiting until disease to treat symptoms). However, check out #2...

2. Is Preventive Care bunk? An analysis published today in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that "preventive care" actually may not be that cost-effective. In fact, it found that preventive measures and treatments actually cost about the same amount. Initially, I found this report troubling because the great hope of public health policy experts and Democrats in congress was that altering the health care system to a more preventive type would improve outcomes and would save money. Although, if it costs about the same, isn't it better to prevent disease than to treat an established disease?

3. Don't live near an airport- a study of nearly 5,000 people found that an increase in night time airplane noise of 10 decibels increased the risk of high blood pressure by 14 percent in both men and women.

4. Diet soda? That's not healthy either. A new study reveals that the risk of developing metabolic syndrome was 34 percent higher among those who drank one can of diet soda a day compared with those who drank none. Eating more meat and fried foods was also associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the precusor to diabetes. It is a syndrome that involves abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol (mostly triglycerides), and slightly elevated blood glucose. It is not clear why this was the case. It may be a chemical in the diet sodas. One would guess also that people who are heavy with high blood pressure to start would drink more diet soda, but the authors tried to adjust for this in their analysis.

1 comment:

Manish said...

#3 is ridiculous. They didn't correc for anything other than distance from airport and noise decibels...which of these people were drinkers, overweight, smokers...etc. And more importantly..unless they have found a new method of taking a blood pressure...your blood pressure would rise by the sheer fact that you know its going to inflate/deflate every 15 minutes as you sleep...crap.