News & Commentary

Briefly Noted July 2014

Frank Diamond

Asthma rates are dropping, but don’t celebrate just yet warns a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of Americans with asthma fell from roughly 8.6% in recent years to 7.4% in 2013. In addition, patients having an asthma attack or episode fell to a 15-year low of 3.8%, down from 4.4% in 2012. Jeannine Schiller, MPH, a lead researcher at the CDC, says that the downturn may just be a statistical anomaly, and wants to see 2014 statistics before pronouncing that asthma is in decline. 

Yet more doubt has been thrown on the benefits of vitamin supplements. Antioxidants actually reduce the benefits of exercise, according to a study in the Journal of Physiology. The study looks at 54 men and women, who are already in pretty good shape. Most of them are runners or cyclists. One half got a placebo; the other got the vitamins. At the end of an intense 11-week training program, both groups showed improvements but the ones taking placebo had more energy and better health. 

If perception is reality (placebo, anyone?), then the debate over the worthiness of wellness programs might be moot. Workers who believe that their employers care about their health will give those companies a competitive advantage, according to a survey of 2,700 employees by the National Business Group on Health, Aon Hewitt, and the Futures Co. Such workers are also happier and less stressed.

When it comes to prescribing antibiotics, hospital doctors are all over the place, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physicians in some hospitals prescribe nearly 3 times as many antibiotics than physicians holding similar positions in other hospitals, according to a study of 300 hospitals. Some of the patients had not even been fully tested to see if they need an antibiotic.

Patients with type 2 diabetes that includes severe hypo­glycemia have more incidence of cancer and higher mortality than those who do not have sever hypoglycemia, according to a study in the journal Diabetes Care. Among the predictors of severe hypoglycemia are older age, low body mass index, and high A1c levels.

Seventy-three percent of older patients would prefer getting care that’s coordinated, but only 27% describe the care they get that way, according to a survey by the John A. Hartford Foundation. Patients who get coordinated care like it: 83% say that their health improved.

A blueprint for high-volume, high-quality lung cancer screening that is detecting cancer earlier—and helping to save lives

Clinical Brief

Multiple Sclerosis: New Perspectives on the Patient Journey–2019 Update
Summary of an Actuarial Analysis and Report