January 2009


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Americans Use of Non-Medical Care Increases

According to a new nationwide US government survey, 38 percent of adults in the United States use some form of what the study called, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was released on December 10, 2008. In older adults ages 60 to 69 the percentage is slightly higher with 41% using some form of CAM procedure.

Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the NIH, defines CAM by saying, "CAM covers a wide range of therapies and practices not currently considered part of conventional medicine. Thus, it’s important to be well informed if you are considering using any." 

Of those non-medical procedures considered "CAM", one of the most used and most accepted is chiropractic. Although not entirely accurate by chiropractic standards, the National Institutes of Health senior website explains chiropractic by saying, "The goal of chiropractic medicine is to help the body heal by correcting its alignment. Doctors of chiropractic, who are also called chiropractors or chiropractic physicians, use a type of hands-on therapy called manipulation, or adjustment, as their main type of procedure. Adjustments are done to increase the range and quality of motion in the area being treated."

Dr. Robert Braile, a chiropractor in Georgia and past President and Chairman of the Board of the International Chiropractors Association notes that chiropractic usage continues to be on the increase. He states, "We are in an economy where times are tough, and nearly 50 million Americans are without health care insurance. Certainly many of these people are going to look for more affordable ways to deal with their health care concerns. Chiropractic has always represented an affordable and safe alternative to more expensive and risky forms of medical care."

NCCAM Director Dr. Josephine Briggs noted the reasons why more Americans are turning to non medical forms of healthcare by saying, "The most common reason why people turn to complementary and alternative medicine in our survey results is chronic back pain - far and away, the leading reason to use complementary and alternative medicine," she says. "Neck pain, joint pain, headache: All these other conditions are also given as common reasons. But chronic back pain is the leading reason, a very common and difficult condition to treat."

In a December 12, 2009 release by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), they also noted that an increasing number of older Americans are turning to the Internet for health information. They noted that 68 percent of online seniors look for health and medical information when they go on the Web.


U.S. Health Care Spending Reaches $2.2 Trillion in 2007

A report released on January 6, 2009 by the US Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, documents that healthcare spending in the US rose to almost 2.2 trillion dollars in the year 2007. Also on January 6, 2009 Reuters news released articles about the report explaining that this amount translated into $7,421 for every man, woman, and child in the US.  The report notes that although the rate of increase has decreased in 2007, the increase still represents more than 6.1 percent from 2006.

This means that 16.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product is spent on some form of medical care. Some of the other interesting facts of this study are that in 2007, 31 percent of healthcare dollars went to hospitals, 21 percent to physicians and clinics, 7 percent on administrative costs, 10 percent to drugs, 25 percent to "other" and 6 percent to nursing homes. Additionally this study showed that private insurance paid 35 percent of this; Medicare 19 percent; Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program 15 percent; 12 percent from other public funds; 7 percent from other private sources; and 12 percent was paid for out of pocket by patients.

As a point of comparison, according to the global healthcare research company, "Themedica" the total health care expenditures across the world were $4.5 trillion in 2007. Of that total the US alone accounted for just less than half at $ 2.2 trillion. Additionally, the US has one of the largest medical and healthcare industries in the world. The USA's medical industry totals more than 750,000 physicians and 5,200 hospitals. In fact health care is such a large business in the US that one in every 11 US residents is employed in health care.

In spite of these staggering costs, the January / February 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs, which reported on the cost of health care also reported that more Americans are suffering from more chronic illnesses. In reporting on this information Reuters UK, January 6, 2009 noted, "More Americans are burdened by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, often having more than three at a time, and this has helped fuel a big rise in out-of-pocket medical expenses."

Out of pocket expenses have risen dramatically over the years. According to Kathryn Anne Paez of the Center for Health Policy and Research at Social and Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Md, and co-author of the study, "Our study found that the prevalence of self-reported chronic conditions is increasing among not only the old-old but also people in midlife and earlier old age. The greatest growth occurred in the number of people affected by multiple chronic diseases, a group with sizable out-of-pocket spending." A January 6, 2009 WebMD article on this same study noted, "The number of people with three or more chronic conditions rose by 2% for people 20-44,10% for people 45-64,18% for people 65-79, and 17% for people 80 and older."


Punk Rocker Moves from Successful Musician to Chiropractic Career

Terry Chimes was a founding member of the 70's hit punk rock group, The Clash. This band was famous for hit songs such as "Rock the Casaba". Years later Chimes now rocks spines as a Doctor of Chiropractic in London.  An article on his journey to a career in chiropractic appeared in the December 27, 2008 issue of the United Kingdom publication The Times Online. (Image right of Chimes from Fiona McWilliams in Times article)

The Times Online article noted that Chimes background was that he came from a family of musicians. However, even at an early age he had different ideas. "As a child I was obsessed with nature and it was expected that I'd become a doctor or a vet,” says Chimes, “and then at 16, I discovered girls and realized that to attract them I needed to be a footballer or a musician.”

Chimes joined the band the Clash at 19 years of age. After leaving the Clash he would later play with Hanoi Rocks, Billy Idol and Black Sabbath, before training to be a chiropractor and acupuncturist in the mid-1980s. During his years of performing, he began to realize that there was a better way to health. He commented in the Times article, "the natural way of healing was far better than pumping people full of medicines.”  He continued, "Most people go one way or the other - healthy or berserk,” Chimes maintains. “There's no middle line; I knew lots of people who died, including Sid Vicious, but was never really into the self-destruction thing myself.”

Many of the people Dr. Chimes now sees in his clinic are musicians themselves. He feels that he may understand their situation better. "Perhaps there's a feeling that I understand something of their condition. Most people involved in healing have experienced damage in some way, as have many musicians."


City Has a Lot Fewer Heart Attacks After Smoking Ban

The above headline comes from a January 6, 2009 online Voice of America article. A similar story also appeared online December 31, 2008  on the Intelihealth website. These stories are based on a CDC (US Centers for Disease and Control) report released on December 31, 2008 quoting a study that looked at the results of a smoking ban in the city of Pueblo, Colorado. The CDC release on the study started off by noting, "Heart attack hospitalizations in the city of Pueblo, Colorado fell sharply after the implementation of a municipal law making workplaces and public places smoke-free."

This study looked at the number of hospital admissions for a period of 18 months before a smoking ban as compared to a period 18 months after the smoking ban went into effect. The results showed that there were 399 hospital admissions for heart attacks in Pueblo in the 18 months before the city′s smoke-free ordinance took effect on July 1, 2003, compared to 237 heart attack hospitalizations in the similar period from 18 months to three years after this date, a decline of 41 percent.

Surrounding areas that had not had a smoking ban did not see any change in the rate of hospital admissions for heart attacks thus strengthening the findings of the ban in Pueblo.

Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC′s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion commented, "We know that exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on people′s cardiovascular systems, and that prolonged exposure to it can cause heart disease in nonsmoking adults. This study adds to existing evidence that smoke-free policies can dramatically reduce illness and death from heart disease."

The CDCs release also noted that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with a 25 percent to 30 percent increased risk of heart disease in adult nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths each year among U.S. nonsmokers.

Dr. Michael Thun, a researcher with the American Cancer Society who was not involved with the original study added his comments in the Intelihealth article, "This study is very dramatic. This is now the ninth study, so it is clear that smoke-free laws are one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce heart attacks."


Football Legend Tackles Chiropractic Care

The above is a headline from the January 9, 2009 "HealthNewsDigest.com.  The original release came from the non profit group the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. This release also appeared in several outlets including the Jan 5, 2009 North American Press Syndicate, in their Health Awareness section.

Jerry Rice  is a future hall of famer and a 13 time Pro Bowl football player who has 38 career records as well as three Super Bowl rings. In his statement on the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress website Rice states, "I am proud to communicate with the American Public about the value of Chiropractic care. Professional football is a very rough and vigorous sport, and I attribute my longevity and durability to a vigorous exercise program and chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic gave me the edge to succeed, not only on the gridiron but also on the dance floor."

The articles note that Rice first became a believer in chiropractic right before Super Bowl XXIII where the 49ers were to play the Bengals. At that time a few key players were injured and Rice gives the credit for their recovery to a chiropractor. He recalls, "Ever since then, I've had the benefit of chiropractic care."

Rice even gives credit to chiropractic in helping him with his appearances on the popular television show Dancing with the Stars.  He explains, "Dancing with the Stars' was every bit as exhausting and challenging--though not nearly as brutal--as football," he says. "It required many hours of practice. I had aches and pains that I never had before. Again, chiropractic care made the difference--and kept me dancing and in the competition."

Jerry Rice summed up his support for chiropractic by saying, "The game of life requires the edge that chiropractic care provides."  The full release and his statements can be seen on the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress website at www.yes2chiropractic.org.


Early Cesareans Pose Risks to Newborns

The above is a headline from the January 8, 2009 issue of the New York Times. The Times article is based on a study published  that same day in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study and articles note that the increasing trend of scheduling cesarean births early for convenience poses a health risk to the baby.

The study found that babies who were born by cesarean at 37 weeks, were twice as likely to suffer respiratory complications than babies born at 39 weeks. This even though many consider 37 weeks to represent full term. Even one week makes a difference as babies born by cesarean at 38 weeks were still 50 percent more likely to suffer such problems. The articles noted that the complications included such things as respiratory distress, infections, hypoglycemia, as well as being admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, or being hospitalized for five or more days.

The Times article noted that 30 percent of deliveries were done by cesarean section in 2006, up from 20.7 percent in 1996. Additionally, although not all are elective, about 40 percent of the 1.3 million cesareans performed in the United States each year are repeat procedures. The concern raised is that more cesareans are being scheduled early out of convenience.

Dr. Alan T.N. Tita, the study lead author and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, stated, "There is an understanding that for a baby born at [full] term, the risks are really very low, and many people may just assume that outcomes at 37 weeks may be the same as at 39 weeks. We know that is not true.”

The study showed that 15.3 percent of babies delivered at 37 weeks suffered a complication of some kind, compared with 11 percent of those born at 38 weeks and only 7.3 percent of those born at 40 weeks. Dr. Tita recommended, "Faced with the likelihood that there is no other problem, I think it’s prudent to wait until 39 weeks to avoid subjecting these babies to adverse outcomes."

Dr. Michael Greene, director of obstetrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote an editorial that accompanied the article in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it he notes that many doctors probably do not realize that there is a risk from this early intervention. He noted, "I would bet if you ask the first 10 obstetricians on the street if they thought it would make a difference to deliver a baby in the second half of the 38th week and the first half of the 39th week, they’d say, ’Nah, it’s not a big difference',” he said. “This study, because of its size and numbers, is able to say, Yeah, it does make a difference.”


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