Variable Blood Pressure May Heighten Stroke Risk
New research suggests that having unstable blood pressure—with episodes of hypertension—might put you at risk of stroke, the Associated Press reports. Peter Rothwell, a University of Oxford professor who authored four papers published in the Lancet and the Lancet Neurology, said that those with occasional high blood pressure need to be treated for hypertension to prevent stroke. In one study, his team evaluated blood pressure in 8,000 people who had a previous heart attack. Patients whose blood pressure varied consistently had a risk of stroke six times that of those with stable high blood pressure, according to the AP.
Vaginal Birth After C-Section: Giving Women the Option
The discussion about delivering babies in this country has the feel of a pendulum swinging back and forth. With nearly 1 in 3 pregnant women having cesarean sections—up from 1 in 5 in 1996—experts say it's time to cut back. And according to a new assessment from a National Institutes of Health panel, pregnant women should once again be given the option of having a vaginal birth after a cesarean, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports.
VBACs are currently chosen less than 10 percent of the time, down from a rate of 28 percent in 1996. Obstetricians began to change their practices after a handful of studies found that women who had a VBAC had slightly higher risks of uterine rupture, which in 6 percent of cases results in the baby's death.
In announcing the new consensus statement, the NIH expert panel said that pregnant women who have had C-sections should be given the option of a vaginal birth provided they had a low horizontal incision that runs at the bikini line and have no issues—such as diabetes, multiple fetuses, or a baby in breech position—that put them at increased risk of delivery complications. Read more.
Don't Get Short-Changed by Short-Term Medical Insurance
Health insurance is supposed to protect. But what happens when it doesn't? Carla Sebesta has been finding out the hard way. Last summer, her husband bought her a monthlong health insurance policy. Just before it expired, he bought her another short-term policy, this time for six months, with the same company, Assurant Health. "We just assumed I had coverage for seven months," says Sebesta, 57, of Georgetown, Texas. "We thought it was continuous." Soon after, she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
A surgery, a 10-day hospital stay, and six months of chemotherapy later, Sebesta learned in December that she might be on the hook for upwards of $200,000, more than three times what she and her husband earn in a year; her insurance company told her they were denying all of her claims. Although she appealed, she prepared for the worst. (Assurant is now reversing the pre-existing condition determination and will reprocess her claims, but Sebesta still is not sure how much she may have to pay.)
Sebesta's story serves as a caution for anyone who is considering short-term health insurance, U.S. News's Lindsay Lyon writes. Such plans, which are offered by many major carriers, typically afford coverage for six months to a year, though some are available on a monthly basis. They are generally intended to insure against the unpredictable—accident, injury, or illness—and are heavily marketed as ways for healthy people in life transitions to "bridge the gap" between jobs, say, and prevent lapses in coverage. Read more.
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