Sunday, September 20, 2009


Following on the series of trying to stretch the healthcare dollar,I would like to highlight how we can do that and live 10-15 years longer. In fact, I am re-packaging an old story and putting in some numbers to drive my point home. We all know that healthy lifestyle, helps us all to live longer especially cardiac wise. We know the major modifiable coronary risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, raised cholesterol, cigarrette smoking, obesity, etc, etc. and how, reducing those risk factors would help us avoid coronary artery disease and in that way, live longer. If you are not convinced, let me give you more evidence.
In the Sept 17, online edition of the British Medical Journal, a group of researchers from University of Oxford ( ivory league UK ), led by Dr Robert Clarke, reported their 38 year followup ( 38 years I mean ), on 18,863 male civil servants, who were first recruited in 1967-1970. The study is called the " WHITEHALL " study. They recruited the subjects, who were apparently healthy civil servants, have them each fill a questionaire about their medical background including their smoking habits, job and employment staus, marital staus, etc, etc. Then they examined the subject as regards their blood pressure, cardiac status, their total cholesterol ( fasting ), and their blood sugar. They were then followed up and had a reassessment in 1997, and 2008. They found that during the followup, 13,501 had died. So we were left with a followup of 4,811. Those who had raised cholesterol ( above 5.0 mMols/L, raised BP and who smoke had a 10 year shorter life expectancy. Those who modify their risk factors and returned them to normal, had the same life expectancy as normal.
This study mirrors the " PHYSICIAN HEALTH STUDY " in USA. Both studies are simple, not pharma driven, had a large cohort followed over a long period of time, and give us invaluable data. It is straight and simple, if you lower your T. cholesterol ( dont have to go into those fancy apo particles or ratios, that create confusion, and that is only good for research papers ), stop smoking and lower your blood pressure ( by whichever means and pills that you wish ), you will live 10-15 years longer, and not tax our healthcare system so much.
That will be stretching our healthcare dollar. In fact, that can also form the basis of asking our health insurers to give us a " no claim bonus ", almost like our car insurance, if we take precaution, prevent disease and stay healthy. It is a win-win ( just to borrow a political phrase ) situation for all us. A very good way, in my opinion, of stretching the healthcare dollar. I will write more about health insurance in the near future.
I just wish to re-emphasize that preventing diseases, in this case heart disease, is a very good way of stretching the healthcare dollar, and I cannot understand why the government do not wish to do it. Is it because there is not much money to be made by third parties, in preventing diseases?

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