Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Routine Health Checks have No Effect on Mortality

This is interesting because I am of the school "Why go looking for trouble?" My father was a physician and so my mother goes to the doctor at the drop of a hat. Here's what's happened to her recently:

1. a botched mammogram required her to come in for *2* more radiation-filled mamograms, they thought they saw "something," which I predicted was a calcification. My mother got very very stressed and had 3 more mammograms, all which pointed to a misreading of the 1st one. Also, as I pointed out, she's in her 80s and shouldn't be getting them at all, even though her doctor wants her to come in every 6 months for one because the one was "suspicious"--see what happens?

2. she also has a benign heart palpitation called SVT. I know about SVT because I've had one all my life, too, and because it's benign, I just try to reduce stress, because it's exacerbated by stress. She started seeing all sorts of doctors, once was sent to the ER for some kind of "shot" (she didn't ask what it was) that made her feel terrible and gave her MORE palpitations later and she almost had open heart surgery to install a pacemaker....don't ask. a cardiologist friend finally explained what bullsh*t this all was and that she should leave it alone. She did, and she's fine.

3. she was diagnosed with "pre hypertension" even though her blood pressure was raised b/c she was in the doctor's office (it's called "White coat syndrome"--they even have a name for it). They put her on a BP med that made her faint. So then she almost had her driver's license taken away. They blamed the palpitations and wanted to do a surgical ablation (where they zap and kill the valve--50% success rate). She was fine once she was off the meds.

4. she had a benign cyst that I argued should be left alone. She went ahead and had ONE done and it became more painful and more inflamed that the other one--which went away on its own.

There's more, but let me stop there. My mother is robustly healthy and I wish the doctors would quit trying to make her sick:

This article is from Medscape, a physician's website:

In a systematic review of 14 randomized controlled trials conducted between 1963 and 1999, researchers evaluated the effect of annual health checkups on morbidity and mortality. The authors defined a general health check as "a visit dedicated solely to preventive counseling and screening tests," excluding visits required for the management of chronic conditions or acute care visits.
The researchers evaluated data from more than 182,000 patients and assessed primary outcomes of all-cause mortality and disease-specific mortality. "Secondary outcomes assessed included morbidity, new diagnoses, hospitalizations, disability, worry, self-reported health, referrals to specialists, and additional visits to general practitioners," the authors write.
The researchers found that general health checks had no significant effect on total mortality (risk ratio [RR], 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95 - 1.03), even when other factors such as inclusion of lifestyle counseling, duration of follow-up, and types of testing were examined. In terms of disease-specific mortality, no significant reduction in cancer mortality (RR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.92 - 1.12) or cardiovascular mortality (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.91 - 1.17) was found.
Not all trials included data on secondary outcomes; however, the researchers noted an increase in the number of new diagnoses of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus during the health checks.

read more here

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