After Care, Women Take Care

By Scott LaFee

June 17, 2020 6 min read

Women tend to live longer than men after a major illness, and the reason may be differences in how they seek treatment.

Danish researchers looked at how 65,000 adults ages 60 and older accessed care before and after being admitted to a hospital for one of four major diseases, among them heart attack and cancers of the digestive tract.

Case in point: Before being admitted for a heart attack, 1 in 4 men hadn't used primary care compared to 1 in 7 women; following hospitalization, 2% of men didn't visit their doctors compared to 1% of women.

Even when men used primary care services, they tended to have fewer visits on average than women.

The findings are an association, not cause and effect, but they clearly suggest that regularly seeing one's doctor, especially after a serious illness, likely means you'll have many more opportunities to see one's doctor in the future.

Virtual Nursing Home Visits

A new AARP poll of U.S. adults ages 50 and older found that 96% supported the idea that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should provide video visitation opportunities.

Strong majorities also supported facilities disclosing any COVID-19 infections to family members and a tax credit for those who serve as caregivers for a family member.

Highs and Lows in Cholesterol

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the percentage of people with high cholesterol levels has been declining over the past two decades, from 18% of U.S. adults in 1999-2000 to 11% in 2015-2018.

Slightly more women than men have high cholesterol levels in the most recent surveys, with people ages 40-59 having the highest levels.

The decline isn't all good news. Levels of high-density lipoprotein — known as "the good cholesterol" — have also declined, particularly among men ages 40-59.

Body of Knowledge

The average blink of the human eye lasts about 1/20 of a second. The average person blinks 15-20 times per minute, so frequently that our eyes are closed roughly 10% of our overall waking hours.

Get Me That, Stat!

Fifty years after the Clean Air Act was passed, air quality in the United States has generally improved, but there's still an ill wind blowing in the wrong direction in many places.

Specifically, more cities are seeing days with high levels of soot and smog, which researchers are blaming on climate change, wildfires and rising temperatures. Nearly half of the nation's population lives in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone, particle pollution or both.

Counts

1 in 7: Ratio of adults who say they would avoid seeking health care for a fever or dry cough for themselves or a member of their household due to concerns about their ability to pay medical costs.

Source: Gallup and West Health

Stories for the Waiting Room

In 1685, King Charles II of England suffered a stroke at the age of 55. The "cure" was worse than the ailment. First, court physicians drained 16 ounces of blood from a vein in his right arm. (Bloodletting was a common prescriptive.) Seizures gripped the king, so he was held down with his mouth forced open to avoid biting his tongue. Cupping glasses were applied to his shoulders to draw out an additional 8 ounces of blood, an emetic applied to make him vomit, followed by purgatives and enemas. His hair was shorn so that pungent blistering agents could be applied to the scalp, plus a cauterizing iron.

After four days of treatment, King Charles II died.

He probably wished he had gone the way of his father, who was simply and quickly beheaded.

Doc talk

Choledocholithiasis: stones in the gallbladder or common bile duct.

Phobia of the Week

Chorophobia: fear of dancing (high prevalence in males).

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for shrimp cocktail is 18 pounds and 9 ounces in 8 minutes, held by Joey Chestnut. Warning: Chestnut, a professional speed eater, is no shrimp. He measures 6 feet, 1 inch and 230 pounds.

Observation

"I gave up visiting my psychoanalyst because he was meddling too much in my private life." — Playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

Medical History

This week in 1981, the first genetically engineered vaccine was announced: the first effective subunit vaccine for any animal or human disease using gene splicing. It was designed to prevent hoof and mouth disease and was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Self-Exam

Q: Stretched out, the human small intestine extends 20 feet, the large intestine 5 feet. Why is the longer intestine described as small?

A: The descriptors small and large refer to differing diameters. The small intestine (1-inch diameter) is the body's primary digestive organ. It's long and narrow to provide enormous internal surface area for absorbing nutrients and water from food. The large intestine also does some absorption of nutrients and water, but its primary responsibility is to store waste before excretion.

Curtain Calls

On June 17, 1871, Clement Vallandigham, a lawyer and Ohio politician, was defending a man accused of murder. While demonstrating in court how the victim might have accidentally shot himself, Vallandigham accidentally — and fatally — shot himself. But his client got off.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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