Saturday, December 20, 2014  
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Top Six Health Care Myths

At a time of budget cuts and debate over health care programs like Medicare, the U.S. is being forced to re-examine the role of health care and its associated costs. Considering that the U.S. spends twice as much per capita on health care as other developed countries, are we really getting good value for our money? What myths beg to be dispelled when it comes to health care?

Myth 1: More care equals better care.

There is such a thing as too much. Consider the overuse of antibiotics to treat ear infections- a condition that normally resolves itself within days if left untreated. The overuse has led to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria that can kill, even when treated with some of the most common antibiotics.

Myth 2: Invasive procedures are always called for in patients with chest pain.

Recent studies compared invasive procedures such as angioplasty for stable patients reporting mild chest pain. Five studies found that the procedures did not improve survival odds and were no more effective than certain drugs like beta-blockers, statins, and aspirin, and lifestyle choices like exercise and diet. Stenting costs Medicare over $1.6 billion a year.

Myth 3: Statins are for everyone with high cholesterol

In spite of studies that prove statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs, only help those with both heart disease and high cholesterol, they are often prescribed for those in the latter category, despite side effects like severe muscle disease that occurs in up to 20 percent of patients.

Myth 4: Health care access is the leading factor in how healthy anyone is.

Health care access is only one factor among many in how healthy people are. A number of studies have suggested that it is not as important as lifestyle, education, income, adequate housing and sanitation, and vaccinations. Health care availability is most important when people have access to primary care doctors.

Myth 5: The United States has the best health care in the world.

While the U.S. ranks highest in survival of certain forms of cancer, it falls short in comparison with most developed countries in a majority of other areas, according to the 2008 CONCORD study. No developed country spends more than the U.S. which gets the poorest return on its investment.

The U.S. ranks 28th in life expectancy for women reaching 65 years old. It ranks 24th place in the same statistic for men.

Myth 6: Any medical test is a good test.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins found that 1,000 patients undergoing CT angiography had about the same number of deaths and heart attacks during the proceeding 18 months than the same number who went without the screening.

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