Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Three Highs - What Else Is New?

I'm traveling on the road today. In fact, I was on the air half of the time. Getting out of the door, driving through the slush in heavy icy rain, waiting for the security check at the airport was definitely not a fun thing.

This is probably the only time that I pick up the free newspaper USA Today from the hotel. Naturally I glance through the headline news, particularly health related topics. It's often not so good news 9 of 10 times.

One headline reads "More using prescription drugs." It may sound a good news on the paper since more Americans are taking care of themselves (by the order of their doctors) by taking prescription drugs.

The findings in the 40-State study by Express Scripts are troublesome. The percentage of Americans taking prescription drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increased by more than 50% from year 2000 to 2006. The cost is about $12 billion.

Specifically, from year 2000 to 2006, the percentage of insured Americans taking prescription drugs for high cholesterol increased from 6.1% to 13.2%, for diabetes 3.1% to 5.5%, for high blood pressure from 8.0% to 14.1%.

Among the 40 states, the states with the highest rates of prescription drug usage are also high in obesity rates including Mississippi and West Virgina. These three health conditions can be associated with obesity.

Taking prescription drugs may help reduce future more costly medical procedures dealing with heart attack, stroke and other problems. Prevention is the key to reduce the need for drugs. Prescription drugs are still a very expensive way of dealing with the problem. It all adds up to the economic cost.

So the question is how to prevent these problems from happening or at least minimize the risk and impact?

You know the answers --- healthy lifestyle and habit changes, regualr exercise and physical activities, balanced nutrition and diet, and social support. What else is new?

Yes, it's that simple. People take either a long way around or a shortcut, but rarely the right way!

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