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New research suggests that young and middle-aged women who take painkillers such as Tylenol, Motrin and Advil may be setting themselves up for significantly higher blood pressure even if they don't already suffer from hypertension.

The gender gap is alive and well in the treatment of hip fractures, with men much less likely than women to receive treatment for osteoporosis after such a fracture."It's been known for the last couple of years that women were under-treated for osteoporosis. We suspected that it was the same or worse for men, and that's what we found," says Gary M. Kiebzak (Archives of Internal Medicine)

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, says homocysteine levels are ''less strongly related'' to the risk of heart attack than previously believed.

Preventive Services Worth Medicare's Money (Reuters)

Congress should make a "Welcome to Medicare" doctor visit standard for all seniors entering the program as a way to push disease prevention and health promotion, according to recommendations issued Friday on Capitol Hill.
Paying for such a visit could help familiarize seniors with their health coverage options and promote prevention services, say the authors of a report on Medicare's coverage of preventive services.

Medicare already covers a variety of preventive health services, including glaucoma and breast cancer (news - web sites) screening, Pap smears, and several vaccinations.

But several other services remain uncovered, despite recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that all seniors receive them, according to the report, issued by the Partnership for Prevention, a Washington non-profit group.

"The program has not kept pace with what we know works," said Richard S. Schweiker, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania and a former Secretary of Health and Health and Human Services (news - web sites).

An analysis issued by Schweiker's group shows that Congress could cover a standard "Welcome to Medicare" visit for all the program's beneficiaries for $1.3 billion over the next decade.

The benefits of the payout would come in promoting several other cost-saving -- or at least cost-effective -- preventive services, according to the report.

Coverage of cholesterol screening could save the program an estimated $436 million over the next 10 years, according to the group's analysis. Coverage of tobacco cessation counseling and vision screening together could save the program approximately $150 million by preventing cancers and fractures, it states.

While the bottom line may not show cost savings in the end, thousands of illnesses and premature deaths could be averted by the effort, according to the analysis.

The trouble is that Medicare currently does not cover those three services, or several others the task force recommends.

Medicare should consider preventive services "comprehensively, not just one specific minor service at a time," said Dr. Gilbert S. Omenn, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.

"It is clear that there's a huge payoff to be had in keeping people healthy," he said.


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