Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Diabetes cost US $245 billion in 2012, says report

diabetes Mediator drugs

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More than 673 million drug prescriptions were written to diabetics in 2012, costing more than $59 billion.

If ever there was a doubt that managing diabetes is expensive, let new data put those doubts to rest: In 2012, the disease cost the U.S. about $245 billion.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) released that number on Thursday in a study appearing in its journal Diabetes Care, noting that it marked a 41-percent increase from 2007, when diabetes tallied up $174 billion in medical expenses.

That increase in cost corresponds with an increase in diagnoses: In 2007, an estimated 17.5 million Americans had the disease. By 2012, that number had shot up to around 26 million.

The latest data says L.A. County accounts for more than 685,000 of those cases; in South L.A., nearly 12 percent of the population has the disease.

The ADA found that direct medical expenses – hospital and emergency care, office visits, medications – totaled about $176 billion in 2012. Indirect costs, including reduced productivity, unemployment due to disability and early death, tacked another $69 billion onto that.

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A recall on Bumble Bee tuna and the cost of diabetes: In health news today

tuna can

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Bumble Bee has issued a voluntary recall of some of its 5-ounce cans of tuna, saying that the seal may not be tight enough and could cause it to spoil.

In today's health news:

Salt may be turning your body against you by wreaking havoc in your immune system, suggests a new study. The BBC said researchers found that a diet that goes heavy on the salt may activate a component of the immune system that targets the body, which in the worst cases, could result in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

$245 billion: That's how much diabetes cost the U.S. in 2012, setting a record and marking a 41-percent increase from 2007. USA Today notes that the "per-patient cost" of the disease hasn't risen – it's the number of people who have it that's spiked. An estimated 22.3 million people were diagnosed with diabetes in 2012, compared to 17.5 million in 2007.

The rate of violent deaths in states with restrictive gun laws was significantly lower than it was in states with less rigorous regulation. The study, according to the Los Angeles Times, found that in the most restrictive states, there was an average of one fewer gun death for every 250,000 people. But in an accompanying commentary published in the same journal, critics wrote that the study treats all gun laws as if they have equal impact, among other flaws, which means their findings can provide "no firm guidance" to policymaking.

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12 questions that calculate your chances of dying within the next 10 years

Senior Citizens Convention

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Regularly experiencing difficulty walking short distances will hurt the score of a person using the Lee Index, a new health evaluation that uses 12 questions to calculate a person's death risk in order to help providers and patients figure out the best treatment options.

It's a simple, if not startlingly morbid, concept: Answer 12 questions and calculate your risk of dying within the next decade.

Any takers?

There's more to it than that, thankfully. First, it's called the Lee Index, and is less a "Determine My Death Date" game than it is a medical evaluation that a health provider would administer to a patient. Researchers introduced their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and wrote that it's intended to help providers figure out what sort of treatment is best for their patients:

Preventive interventions, such as cancer screening, expose patients to immediate risks with delayed benefits, suggesting that risks outweigh benefits in patients with limited life expectancy. Recent guidelines recommend considering patients’ life expectancy when deciding whether to pursue preventive interventions with long lag times to benefit…

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Experts to policymakers: Remember women when you're setting up insurance exchanges

US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION ISSUES-HEALTH CARE

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A woman waits outside the mammogram and women's health services area on the first day of the fourth annual free Care Harbor health clinic at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in South L.A. in September 2012. A new report says policymakers should prioritize the coverage of women's health care when they set up state health insurance exchanges, including preventive care services like mammograms and Pap smears.

Statewide insurance marketplaces will be one of the most visible effects of the Affordable Care Act, and a group of experts hope that policymakers remember women when they're setting them up.

Those experts wrote a report, which is a "checklist" of sorts and the result of a joint effort by the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Women, wrote the authors, "should be a key consideration in the planning and design of new systems of coverage under national health care reform" – like the insurance exchanges that will serve as centralized marketplaces for health insurance plans in each of the 50 states. 

The writers add that women tend to use more medical services than men because they tend to have longer life expectancies, need reproductive care and have to contend with a "greater likelihood of chronic disease and disability." Women also "take major responsibility in coordinating care" for their families, and often face more challenges when it comes to the cost and affordability of health care.

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'Nightmare bacteria' and when grandma plays video games: In health news today

Nintendo WII For Seniors Championship

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Older folks who play video games were found to have higher levels of well-being in a recent study.

In today's health news:

It's never good when the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to "nightmare bacteria," but that's precisely what's happening, reports USA Today. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC's director, was referring to a recent outbreak of untreatable "superbugs," which are resistant to virtually all antibiotics and kill half the people they infect. So far, it's only been found in hospitals and nursing homes, but containment is crucial, said officials – in part because it can spread its resistance to other bacteria.

The Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces are on the horizon, and a new report from the George Washington University says women tend to use more health care services over their lifetime – so state policymakers ought keep them in mind as they set those marketplaces up.

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