By Jen Mystkowski, Tribune Newspapers
7:58 PM EST, March 6, 2013
The daily broadcast of medical reports, scientific studies and sociological statistics can cause your ears to ring.
Sometimes a report will contradict the findings of another issued just days earlier. More often, compelling snapshots of the American experience are revealed in the numbers tucked down near the bottom of an abstract statistic, parked far away from the statistic shouting the loudest up top.
We've sifted through many of the reports that have surfaced in the last month or so and taken a closer look. Below is a sampling of interesting nuggets found therein, each shining some light on life, death and the time in between.
One in three
U.S. adults say they have gone online to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Only 53 percent of these people followed up with a visit to the doctor.
The number of new sexually transmitted infections that Americans contracted in 2008, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treating them will cost U.S. patients and insurance companies $15.6 billion over the course of the infections. Human papillomavirus (HPV) was the most common infection.
Of adults have gone to the emergency room or been hospitalized unexpectedly in the past 12 months, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
The number of deaths that could be prevented over the next decade if Americans cut their salt intake to within national guidelines, according to a study out of the University of California at San Francisco. That finding is based on computer simulations using data from various studies on the effects of extra sodium on blood pressure and heart risks. The Institute of Medicine recommends most healthy people get 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, with an upper limit of 2,300 mg. But the average American eats roughly 3,600 mg a day, largely through processed food.
Less than 1/2
Of U.S. adults received health insurance through their employer in 2012, according to a Gallup poll.
Of hospital-based physicians surveyed said they routinely see more patients than they can safely manage, leading in some cases to unneeded tests, medication errors and deaths, according to a survey by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. A quarter of the doctors said this patient overload prevented them from fully discussing treatment options or answering questions.
Were 20 percent less likely to die than other people during the period of one medical study, says Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and preventive cardiology at John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. But, those who run more than 20 miles per week, "which is not a whole lot," Lavie says — seem to lose that benefit. "At superhigh doses ... there's actually potential for cardiac harm."
Hysterectomies are performed annually in the U.S., according to researcher Dr. Jason Wright, making it the most commonly performed surgical procedure for nonmalignant, female pelvic conditions.
Increased cancer mortality rates among both African-American and white men with 12 or fewer years of education compared with the cancer mortality rates of college graduates for all cancers combined, according to data from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics.
Percentage of Internet users that have ever posted an online review of a doctor, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
An estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of Americans take in more than 600 mg of caffeine a day, the equivalent of about six cups of coffee or 12 sodas or four energy drinks, according to a Johns Hopkins University study.
Number of visits to the emergency room related to energy drinks in 2011, according to a report sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (That's nearly double the 2007 figures.) And 42 percent of visits involved energy drinks used in combination with other drugs.
Every day in the U.S., about this many military veterans kill themselves, a rate that is about 20 percent higher than the Department of Veterans Affairs' 2007 estimate, according to a two-year study by a VA researcher. The study indicates that more than two-thirds of the veterans who commit suicide are 50 or older, suggesting that the increase in veterans' suicides is not primarily driven by those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Number of calories burned in the average sex act, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Of Medicare patients hospitalized for heart failure were readmitted within 30 days of discharge, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Of those who were hospitalized for heart attack, almost 20 percent were readmitted to the hospital within that time frame. Of those hospitalized for pneumonia, more than 18 percent were readmitted.
American adults had a mental illness in 2011, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Of people with untreated mental disorders in 2011 cited cost as the main reason why they didn't get treatment, according to the most recent report on drug use and mental health disorders issued by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Of cellphone users have apps on their phones to help manage or track their health, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Most of the apps have to do with exercise or calorie counting.
The percentage of kids who were late on at least one vaccine — including their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) shots — during a study period discussed in a article in JAMA Pediatrics. Studies have shown many parents are asking to delay or skip certain vaccines, often citing safety concerns such as a link between vaccines and autism — a theory which scientists now agree holds no water.
Of sexually active women used the "morning-after" pill between 2006 and 2010, compared with about 4 percent in 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The Food and Drug Administration approved sales of the emergency contraception drug known as "Plan B" to adult women without a prescription in 2006 after years of contentious debate. It later loosened the restriction to include 17-year-olds.
A little more than 4 percent of drivers admitted to having fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days, a CDC analysis said. Men were more likely to report nodding off at the wheel than women; younger drivers were more likely to have done so than older drivers.
Tribune Newspapers and wire services contributed to this report.
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