Tuesday, November 26, 2019

America Has a Health Problem

The conclusions from a comprehensive new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University showing that mortality rates for U.S. adults ages 25-64 continue to increase, driving down the general population’s life expectancy for at least three consecutive years should not be ignored.
The report, “Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017,’’ was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study paints a bleak picture of a workforce plagued by drug overdoses, suicides and organ-system diseases while grappling with economic stresses.

In a trend that cuts across racial and ethnic boundaries, the U.S. has the worst midlife mortality rate among 17 high-income countries despite leading the world in per-capita spending on health care.
And while life expectancy in those other industrialized nations continues to inch up, it has been going in the opposite direction in America, decreasing from a peak of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017.

By comparison, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, the average longevity in similar countries is 82.2 years. Japan’s is 84.1, France’s 82.4 and Canada’s 81.9. They left the U.S. behind in the 1980s and increased the distance as the rate of progress in this country diminished and eventually halted in 2011.

Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the VCU Center on Society and Health and the study’s lead author, said the reasons for the decline go well beyond the lack of universal health care in the U.S. – in contrast with those other nations – although that’s a factor.  “It would be easier if we could blame this whole trend on one problem, like guns or obesity or the opioid epidemic, all of which distinguish the U.S. from the other countries,’’ Woolf told USA TODAY. “But we found increases in death rates across 35 causes of death.’’

I think the bigger question is what is it going to take for America for finally start paying attention to what's happening ... and begin to do something about it?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Told You So

On the front page of the Dallas Morning News (and many other newspapers) on November 17, 2019 was the headline:  "Study: Surgery not best for all" and the lengthy article explained the massive study named ISCHEMIA.  While invasive procedures like insertion of a stent or even by-pass surgery better than pills at reducing patients' chest pain during exercise the study found no difference in a wide variety of heart-disease outcomes including heart attacks and even cardiac death.

Is anyone surprised that a legion of cardiac specialists are against this study?  After all, there are 500,000 heart stent procedures every year in the U.S. which is millions of dollars for doctors, hospitals, even stent manufacturers.  But now we have a huge federal study that says there's no reason to rush into these invasive procedures for patients with stable heart disease.

Have you ever heard of the Ornish Program?  Dr. Dean Ornish developed it many years ago and it is the most effective program to reverse heart disease available ... and it's all natural.  Based on a plant-based diet the program includes medication and other tools for the body to heal itself.  It has been proved so successful that Medicare even pays for it!

Surgery and even drugs may make money for a lot of folks but it isn't necessarily the best treatment.