Archive for January, 2011

Number of Americans with Diabetes Rises to Nearly 26 Million

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.   Prediabetes raises a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance <a href>http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org</a>.

Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of Americans of all ages, and 11.3 percent of adults aged 20 and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27 percent of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have the disease. 

Prediabetes affects 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older.  In 2008, CDC estimated that 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8 percent of the population, had diabetes and another 57 million adults had prediabetes. The 2011 estimates have increased for several reasons:

More people are developing diabetes.

Many people are living longer with diabetes, which raises the total number of those with the disease. Better management of the disease is improving cardiovascular disease risk factors and reducing complications such as kidney failure and amputations.

Hemoglobin A1c is now used as a diagnostic test, and was therefore incorporated into calculations of national prevalence for the first time. The test, also called glycated hemoglobin, measures levels of blood glucose (sugar) over a period of two to three months. Because of this change, estimates of populations with diabetes and prediabetes in the 2011 fact sheet are not directly comparable to estimates in previous fact sheets.

In a study published last year, CDC projected that as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. Type 2 diabetes, in which the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin, accounts for 90 percent to 95 percent of diabetes cases. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history, having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), a sedentary lifestyle, and race/ethnicity. Groups at higher risk for the disease are African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Half of Americans aged 65 and older have prediabetes, and nearly 27 percent have diabetes.  Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.  Diabetes costs $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.

Heart Disease And Stroke Costs Will Triple

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The cost of treating heart disease and stroke in the United States is expected to triple in the next 20 years, to $818 billion.

According to the American Heart Association this $545 billion increase in costs for treating heart disease and stroke is largely due to the aging of the population.

“The burden of heart disease and stroke on the U.S. health care system and American families will be substantial,” said Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

The projected increase in costs will be based on the current rate of heart disease adjusted for changes in the overall age of Americans and the anticipated racial mix of patients. 

Experts noted that these estimates do not take into account the additional costs for those who have more than one condition, or new treatments that might come along,  To curb this rise in costs, the panel said that effective prevention strategies are needed if we are to limit the growing burden of cardiovascular disease. 

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a news release that “unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans. Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.” 

Right now, 36.9 percent of Americans have some type of heart disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other conditions. By 2030, that number will rise to 40.5 percent of the population, or about 116 million people, according to the report. 

The biggest increases are thought to be in stroke, up 24.9 percent, and heart failure, up 25 percent.

Between 2010 and 2030, the cost of caring for patients with heart disease will go from $273 billion to $818 billion, the panel predicted. 

In addition, heart disease will cost billions more in lost productivity, increasing from about $172 billion in 2010 to $276 billion in 2030. These losses include days missed from work or home tasks because of illness, plus lost earnings due to premature death. 

There are also a number of low-cost, high-value cardiovascular protective therapies that are available but are underutilized in routine clinical care that could also help to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease. 

These include keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control, not smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which means eating a healthy diet, getting exercise and keeping your weight down. These strategies have been proven to substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. 

For more information on affordable critical illness insurance protection which can provide a tax-free lump sum cash payment upon diagnosis of a heart attack or stroke, viasit the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance’s website <a href> http://www.crititcalillnessinsuranceinfo.org </a>.

Genetic Code For Type of Cancer Is Cracked

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Scientists at Johns Hopkins have deciphered the genetic code for a type of pancreatic cancer. 

The findings described in Science Express online shows that patients whose tumors have certain coding “mistakes” live twice as long as those without them. 

Scientists report learning that each patient with this kind of rare cancer has a unique genetic code that predicts how aggressive the disease is and how sensitive it is to specific treatments.  What this tells us is that it may be more useful to classify cancers by gene type rather than only by organ or cell type according to Jesse Slome director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine cancers account for about five percent of all pancreatic cancers. Some of these tumors produce hormones that have noticeable effects on the body, including variations in blood sugar levels, weight gain, and skin rashes while others have no such hormone signal.

Researchers investigated non-hormonal pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in 68 men and women. Patients whose tumors had mutations in three genes and lived at least 10 years after diagnosis, while more than 60 percent of patients whose tumors lacked these mutations died within five years of diagnosis. 

The Johns Hopkins team, which previously mapped six other cancer types, used automated tools to create a genetic “map” that provides clues to how tumors develop, grow and spread. 

In the first set of experiments, the Johns Hopkins scientists sequenced nearly all protein-encoding genes in 10 of the 68 samples of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and compared these sequences with normal DNA from each patient to identify tumor-specific changes or mutations. 

Major funding for the study was provided by the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation, a nonprofit foundation which funds research on carcinoid cancer, pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, and related neuroendocrine cancers. Additional funding was from the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, the Joseph Rabinowitz Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Research Foundation, the AACR Stand Up to Cancer’s Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant and the National Institutes of Health.

Fruit And Veggies Can Cut Dying From Heart Disease

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. 

According to researchers who analyzed data from more than 300,000 people from eight European countries, there is just one more reason to eat vegetables and fruit daily.

Individuals between ages 40 to 85 who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study were followed for an average of nearly 8.5 years. 

The findings published online in the European Heart Journal found that there were 1,636 deaths from ischemic heart disease, which is the most common form of heart disease and a leading cause of death in Europe. 

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, people with ischemic heart disease have reduced blood flow to the heart, which can cause angina, chest pain and heart attack. 

According to the study results, people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day were 22 percent less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than those who ate fewer than three portions a day. A portion was considered to be 80 grams, which would equal a small banana, a medium apple or a small carrot. 

For each additional portion above the lowest intake of two portions, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease was reduced by 4 percent, the study authors noted. 

The risk of a fatal ischemic heart disease for someone eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day would be 4 percent lower compared to someone consuming four portions a day, and so on up to eight portions or more. 

The main message from this analysis is that people who consume more fruits and vegetables have lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.

Cancer Costs Will Soar In This Decade

Friday, January 14th, 2011

A new report predicts that by 2020, the annual cost of cancer care in the United States is expected to reach at least $158 billion. 

According to the report from the U.S. National Cancer Institute that’s a 27 percent jump from 2010.  The surge in cost will be largely driven by an aging population that is expected to develop more cases of cancer in the near-term. 

Projected costs could go even higher if the price tag for care rises faster than expected.  Experts described the 2020 cost estimate as “on the low side” according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks medical and health issues impacting aging Americans. 

Cancer is a disease of aging and the population of elderly Americans is expected to rise from 40 million in 2009 to 70 million by 2030 notes Jesse Slome, executive director for the trade group. Improvements in screening mean cancer is becoming more identifiable and treatable, but therapies are becoming increasingly expensive. 

If the trend in survival and costs continue as they have been, then the estimates could be as high as $207 billion by 2020 one reseracher predicted. The report is published online Jan. 12 and in the Jan. 19 print issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

To estimate the cost of cancer treatment, the research team looked at data on 13 cancers in men and 16 in women. Tracking the rate of these cancers and the current costs to treat them in 2010, they were able to project costs in 2020. 

In these calculations researchers assumed that costs would rise by only 2 percent a year.  The largest increases in cost over the period will be for breast cancer at 32 percent and prostate cancer at 42 percent, simply because more people will be living longer with these diseases, the researchers noted. 

For example, while the cost of treating breast cancer remains relatively low (compared to other tumor types), by 2020 this cancer will incur the highest costs — about $20.5 billion — since there are expected to be many more women living with the disease. 

Commenting on the study, Elizabeth Ward, at the American Cancer Society, said that “a big component of the rise in cost is just the growth and aging of the population. We are just going to have more people developing cancer and under treatment for cancer,” she said.

Free Membership Campaign Launched

Monday, January 10th, 2011

There’s really no explanation why critical illness insurance sales continue to lag in the U.S., declares Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII).  According to Slome, the protection first introduced in 1983 now sells well in 54 other countries worldwide.

“There are over 65 million Americans between the ages of 30 and 49, creating an enormous opportunity for the sale of critical illness insurance products,” states Slome.  “These adults understand the risk of being diagnosed with cancer or having a heart attack.  They simply have no knowledge that an affordable financial solution like critical illness insurance exists but we are going to change that starting in 2011.”

The industry trade association established in 2009 just announced a free membership campaign for insurance and financial professionals.  The free membership includes access to the Association’s online Learning, Marketing and Sales Center, providing access to sales training modules, industry research, marketing and sales tools.

“We plan to educate 10,000 insurance professionals during the year and to significantly jumpstart product awareness and ultimately sales,” Slome adds.  “Every agent or broker who has clients in their 30s or 40s will benefit by understanding how simple it is to offer and sell this highly affordable form of protection.” 

The free membership offer will be continued for at least the first six months of 2011.  For more information or to sign-up for free membership, visit the Association’s website http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/sales-center/.