Previous: The Shocking Truth About Surgical Placebos
Next: How Many Calories Are in Your Thanksgiving Dinner?



View count:31,819
Last sync:2024-02-19 00:00
Get your Healthcare Triage merch here:

What are we worried about in terms of health? What's really gonna kill us? How different is that from the past? All this and more on this week's Healthcare Triage News.

For those of you who want to read more, go here:

John Green -- Executive Producer
Stan Muller -- Director, Producer
Aaron Carroll -- Writer
Mark Olsen -- Graphics
What are we worried about in terms of health? What's really going to kill us? How different is that from the past? All this and more on this week's Healthcare Triage news.

(Healthcare Triage music)

Our first story comes to us from Gallup, which repeated a survey asking Americans what the most urgent health problem facing this country at the present time is. They also did this survey a year ago.

In both times, the most common concern was the cost of healthcare, and whether people could afford care. The second was access to healthcare, and whether we had universal coverage.

Let's take a pause and recognize that inarguably, the richest country in the world still almost 40% of people are most worried that they don't have access to healthcare or can't afford it if they need it. We still have a lot of work to do here.

But the number three most urgent health  problem facing this country right now: Ebola. Yep. Ebola.

Ebola beat obesity! It beat cancer! It beat diabetes, flu, AIDS, drug or alcohol abuse... only two people treated in the United States for Ebola have died. No people who have caught Ebola in the United States have died. None!

But as Julia Belluz over at points out, diabetes is associated with more than 73,000 deaths in the United States a year. Cancer? more than 575,000. Heart disease? Almost 600,000 deaths a year.

Last year, Ebola wasn't even on the radar! This year, 17% of us think Ebola is the most urgent health problem facing this country. I still think we should be concerned about the things that are actually going to kill us.

Speaking of what kills us, our second story comes to us from the New England Journal of Medicine, the link to which was sent to me by a Healthcare Triage fan. It seems that they did an analysis some time ago that looked at what killed people in the United States back in 1900 versus 2000. Here's the chart.
First of all, yay, way more people died per population back then than today. So, you know, progress. But there are still things we can learn.

Back then, infectious disease was a real problem. More than half of deaths were from TB, flu, pneumonia, GI infections or diphtheria. The advent of antibiotics, better infection control, and vaccinations have reduced those deaths significantly. But what's left are sort of the same. Chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer, are still getting us. Strokes, kidney diseases, Alzheimer's disease, accidents - these are all still a problem!

Sure, we're living longer, but you have to recognize when it's time to change up your game! Focusing on infectious diseases was, and still is, important, but it's not the problem now that it was a hundred years ago.

The authors of the piece note that the medical systems we have are perhaps best suited to the diseases of the past, not the present and the future! Lots of them we can't treat with a drug and a pat on the back. We need to adapt, but first we need to recognize what the real threats are.