An article last week in the MIT Technology Review issued a warning that our health care information, including medical, insurance and financial records, might not be secure.
Along with vast troves of credit card information and celebrity snapshots, hackers stole a record number of medical records from U.S. health-care facilities this year. In 2015, attacks targeting health data will become even more common, according to security researchers.
Carl Leonard, principal security analyst for Websense, says hackers are breaking into the computer networks of health-care facilities with increasing frequency and taking valuable personal information that is often secured improperly. In August,
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Not as effective, but still helpful
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a health advisory. It appears this year’s flu vaccine is not a great genetic match for the majority of flu cases seen thus far. This is called a virus “drift.”
That’s too bad, but because the flu vaccine is made before the flu season starts, it’s always a bit of an educated guess. Some years are a better match than others.
Related post: Get your seasonal flu shot
The media has been reporting that the vaccine is less effective this year, and perhaps you … Continue reading
Two things happened last week that reminded me you can never be too careful in our health care system, especially when medications are involved.
Large pharmacies oversee hundreds of prescriptions every day. Add that to numerous phone calls, glitchy computers and impatient customers, and mistakes are bound to happen.
Protect yourself with a few simple steps at the counter:
Check the name on your prescription
Or, a tale of two patients (with the same last name)
My 84-year-old mother called me on Friday afternoon in a bit of a panic. She had just returned from visiting my brother on the … Continue reading
Use it or lose it
There are several pieces of advice for helping prevent or delay age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Don’t smoke
- Eat healthy, heart-friendly foods
- Challenge your brain
Keeping your brain active and fit can be especially fun and rewarding, as it usually involves learning something new. Examples of good brain-stretchers are:
- Learning a foreign language
- Learning to play an instrument
- Learning to dance, especially a complicated dance such as ballroom or folk dancing
- Playing games
I love to play games. Board games, card games, word games or video games. You can play with others, which also … Continue reading
Two months ago I posted that I was not concerned about an outbreak of Ebola in an American city. By “outbreak” I mean a rapid spread of the virus resulting in many people becoming ill and dying, as is happening in West Africa.
I stand by that belief.
However, listening to and reading the non-stop media coverage of Ebola in the US, I can understand why so many are verging on panic. Mainstream media is designed to “sell” news rather than inform the public, and fear is a powerful motivator when it comes to selling something. I’m … Continue reading
Fall (and flu) is in the air
Tomorrow will be the first full day of autumn and my thoughts naturally turn to . . . influenza. Yes, that’s how my mind works.
I’m already seeing flu shots advertised at my local grocery store pharmacy, and at other chain drug stores in my neighborhood.
Flu season typically runs from November to March, but no one can predict with accuracy exactly when the first cases will start showing up or when the season will end–sometimes as early as October to as late as May. It’s unpredictable as well how severe the upcoming … Continue reading
Last week there was another warning in our local newspaper that a person diagnosed with measles had traveled through our airport. The article advised anyone who was at the airport during that particular time frame, and who might not be vaccinated and/or might be pregnant, to talk to their health care provider.
Measles is very contagious and can be especially dangerous to pregnant women.
In light of continuing misinformation about vaccinations, and the possibility that more unvaccinated children will be in our schools due to the influx of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, I decided to republish this post … Continue reading
A banana a day?
We’ve all heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” (thank you, Benjamin Franklin!), but a potassium-rich banana might help, too.
A recent study looking at stroke risk in post-menopausal women (ages 50-79) found that, overall, women with the highest dietary potassium intake were 12% less likely to suffer a stroke.
And women who didn’t have high blood pressure and ate a lot of potassium-rich foods had a 21% lower risk of stroke.
But don’t go running to the drugstore for potassium supplements! This study didn’t look at the effect of potassium supplements … Continue reading
Are annual exams a waste of money?
Based on the most recent evidence, I would argue yes. I posted about annual exams a few months ago, and quoted the following from the Society for General Internal Medicine (a primary care specialty group):
Routine general health checks are office visits between a health professional and a patient exclusively for preventive counseling and screening tests. In contrast to office visits for acute illness, specific evidence-based preventive strategies, or chronic care management such as treatment of high blood pressure, regularly scheduled general health checks without a specific cause including the “health maintenance” annual
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The debate continues
Aargh! Last month the media picked up on three studies in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) about the association between how much salt we eat and our health.
Unfortunately, the studies didn’t do much to clear up the confusion surrounding how much salt we should be getting in our diets. In fact, popular reporting on the subject did little other than stir up more fear over what we eat.
The world has an increasingly high taste for salty foods — a taste that new research suggests leads to to 1.65 million excess deaths annually.
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