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Showing posts from July, 2011

Health Care Costs are Coming Down!

It sounds like a nursery rhyme, but it's actually true.

Avery Johnson of the Wall Street Journal reported on an investor conference of Goldman Sachs in June of this year, in which major insurers discussed an unprecedented downward trend in medical spending.  This has led to increased profits for insurance companies, but uneasiness in the many industries that live off of the abundance of excessive medical costs.

Specifically, hospital income is down 2-15%, costs associated with doctor visits are down 7%, and though patients are visiting quick care type providers more often, they are less likely to fill the prescriptions they receive at those visits. Simply put, people are going to the doctor less, they are spending less time and less money in the hospital and are taking less medications.

Humana reported and increase in profits of 30% and Aetna 42% since the patients they are insuring are costing them less money despite the fact that they raised premiums quite a bit last year. Event…

High blood pressure: who actually has it?

Hypertension is defined as the abnormal elevation of the pressure of blood within the arteries as measured most often by a blood pressure cuff.  About 1 in 3 Americans has hypertension (which is the same thing as high blood pressure and has almost nothing to do with stress or anxiety.) When I finished medical school about 25 years ago, hypertension was diagnosed in an adult when the blood pressure was above 140/90 mm of mercury. In the last several years, since mortality pretty much just increases with increasing blood pressure, lower levels of blood pressure have been identified as being abnormal. Now a person has prehypertension if their systolic (top number) blood pressure is between 120 and 139 or if their diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure is between 80 and 89.

High blood pressure is a big deal because it increases a person's risk for stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. It is also mostly completely silent, causing no discomfort except at very high levels. The only …