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Latest Posts

The Conditions That Remain Tough To Beat

It’s too young to die at age 56. It’s too young to die when you have four children and a wife. It’s too young to die when you have led one of the most successful technology companies ever. It’s too young to die when you are very rich, have so much more to do and to give back. But pancreatic cancer doesn’t care. This time, again, one of our most deadly cancers won.

Medicines, nutrition, surgery, liver transplant, apparently Steve Jobs, celebrated CEO of Apple, tried them all. But, as I wrote in a recent blog, continuing was just too much. To be sure, Jobs did not have the most common type of cancer in his pancreas. His was a neuroendocrine tumor and life expectancy can be longer. But, as has been noted widely in the media, Steve Jobs came to know that his mortality clock was ticking. His eight year-survival was probably what he knew he was facing all along. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Cardiovascular Care: Costs Could Triple By 2030

Real total direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease (CVD) could triple, from $273 billion to $818 billion (in 2008 dollars) by 2030. Real indirect costs, such as lost productivity among the employed and unpaid household work, could increase 61 percent, from $172 billion in 2010 to $276 billion.

Results appeared in a policy statement of the American Heart Association.

CVD is the leading cause of mortality and accounts for 17 percent of national health expenditures, according to the statement. How much so? U.S. medical expenditures rose from 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 1985 to 15 percent in 2008. In the past decade, the medical costs of CVD have grown at an average annual rate of 6 percent and have accounted for about 15 percent of the increase in medical spending.

The spending is associated with greater life expectancy, “suggesting that this spending was of value,” the authors wrote. But as the population ages, direct treatment costs are expected to increase substantially, even though lost productivity won’t, since seniors are employed at lower rates.

If current prevention and treatment rates remain steady, CVD prevalence will increase by about 10 percent over the next 20 years. The estimate reflects an aging population, and one that is increasingly Hispanic. To prepare for future cardiovascular care needs, the American Heart Association projected future costs. By 2030, 40.5 percent (116 million) of the population is projected to have some form of CVD. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The State Of U.S. Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues an annual report on the state of health in the United States. The 33rd edition is out and has some surprising findings, especially about the use of procedures, tests and medical technology.

The life expectancy in the United States is now 77.9 years. Are you over that age? If so, congratulations — you beat the odds. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Obesity, Smoking And Life Expectancy

When we think of people who enjoy the outdoors, the images in our minds are often of healthy and vibrant individuals — stereotypes are young athletes engaged in vigorous activities like climbing, biking, skiing, etc.

Of course, going outdoors is for everyone, and persons may be young or old, active or sedentary, and healthy or infirm. We carry our personal health status with us wherever we go, and the health habits we pursue in our daily lives form the framework for our participation in adventures, recreation and other outdoor activities.

Therefore, public health issues are important, be they adherence to precautions to avoid infectious diseases or lifestyle modifications to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Read more »

This post, Obesity, Smoking And Life Expectancy, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Warning: Graphic Health Politics

A friend sent me this interesting graph from the blog of the National Geographic.

You’ll have to click on it to see a bigger version.  It captures a lot of data very elegantly on a single graph–  Professor Tufte would love it.

What it shows is health care spending per person across a group of countries, along with life expectancies, average number of doctor visits per year, and whether a country has a system of universal health coverage.  Although putting all of this data on one graph is novel, the graph makes what by now is one of the oldest political arguments for reform – for all the money they United States spends on health care we don’t get a good deal.

So why blog about this graph? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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