October 2010

Timetable for Health Care Reform Provisions

When does the U.S. Health Care Law take effect?

Several provisions of the new health care law have already gone into effect and more take effect each year through 2014 and beyond. January 1, 2011 is the next key date when more provisions take effect.

Kaiser Family Foundation’s new interactive Implementation Timeline allows you to see by year, when provisions take effect and allows you to filter your selection by topic area (such as financing/taxes or Medicare).  View the timeline at  http://healthreform.kff.org/timeline.aspx

Post-menopausal Estrogen Therapy may Increase Kidney Stone Risk

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center report that estrogen therapy after menopause increases a woman’s chances of developing kidney stones.  Kidney stones are common among postmenopausal women, affecting between 5% and 7% of the population in the U.S.  Up until now, only observational studies have been done looking at kidney stones and estrogen, and the results have been conflicting.   This study shows new evidence based on a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Health Literacy Is Not Just about Your Reading Level

We all have friends who are brilliant (e.g, can give you the dates of every World War, can explain nanotechnology, can transpose music instantly, etc), but when it comes to health issues, they don’t know what the difference is between an allergy and the flu.  Nearly all of us have some problems with health literacy.

Health literacy is not only about reading.  It’s about understanding difficult health terms and conditions.   For example, health literacy plays a role in how well:

Botox for Chronic Migraines

On October 15, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Botox injection (onabotulinumtoxinA) to prevent headaches in adult patients with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine is defined as having a history of migraine and experiencing a headache on most days of the month.   it is estimated that about 6% of men and 18% of women suffer from migraine headaches during any given year.

Aspirin for Heart Disease and Stroke Reduction: Men vs. Women

Aspirin therapy to prevent heart attack may have different benefits and harms in men and women.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the U.S., contributing to approximately 58% of deaths.  The epidemiology of CVD events is different for men and women.   Men have a higher risk for coronary heart disease and tend to have these events at a younger age than women.

Although incidence rates of stroke are higher among men than women, more women die of stroke than men because of their longer life expectancy.

Women with Disabilities and Breast Screening

Breast Cancer is a major health concern for all women, including women with disabilities. About 30% of women aged 40 years or older have a disability.  In the US in 2008, 76.2% of women aged 40 or older reported having a mammogram in the past two years, while women with a disability have a lower reported mammography rate than women without a disability.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has prepared a fact sheet that includes tips for women with disabilities to help them eliminate difficulties they may encounter while undergoing screening.    To view the CDC article, click HERE.

Bisphosphonates for Bones Back in the News

On March 11, 2010, this site posted a BLOG about news reports that raised the question about whether or not there is an increased risk of atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures in patients taking bisphosphonate medication for osteoporosis.  At that time, the data that the FDA reviewed did not show a clear connection between these rare fractures and these drugs but physicians patients were encouraged to be vigilant if using these drugs.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome–a Quality of Life Condition

In the recent Institute of Medicine report that we blogged about a week ago, Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise” it was reported that there has been a lot of progress in the areas of breast cancer, heart disease, and cervical cancer, in particularly, but less progress in areas where mortality was less of an issue than quality of life.   One of those conditions that would fall into the quality of life category is Irritable Bowel Syndrome which is more common in women than in men.