Health Buzz: Medicare and Social Security at Risk and Other Health News

How to know if a stroke is in your future, and 3 steps to take now to prepare for swine flu's return.


Recession Is Quickly Drying Up Funds for Medicare 

Rising healthcare costs and the down economy are draining the funding for Medicare, according to Reuters UK. The Social Security fund is taking a hit, too, from the recession and unemployment. A government report from Tuesday indicated that by 2017, Medicare's trust money will be gone, and Social Security's trust fund drought will follow in 2037; earlier predictions showed Medicare running out in 2019 and Social Security by 2041. President Obama is focusing on Medicare first with a system overhaul effort to lower healthcare costs for consumers, Reuters UK reports. Members of the House Ways and Mean Committee don't want seniors to worry. After the government report's release, two of the committee's senior members issued the following statement: "Nothing in today's report should give seniors a reason to be concerned that their benefits will not be paid in full."

Learn about the recession's impact on womens health, and here are 10 secrets to finding happiness during the recession.

7 Signs You Could Be at Risk of a Stroke

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, but it trails other major diseases in awareness and recognition of symptoms. U.S. News's Sarah Baldauf lists 7 factors that may be putting you at risk of having a stroke. Risk factors include uncontrolled high blood pressure, smoking, migraines, and high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. If you're at risk, leading a healthful lifestyle—including getting exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and not smoking—may reduce your odds of ischemic stroke, the most common form of stroke. Women looking to prevent a stroke may need to stop taking hormone replacement therapy that contains estrogen since the treatment has been found to significantly increase risk.

Once a stroke hits, it's critical to seek treatment immediately, doctors say, because one powerful drug is approved for use only in the first three hours after symptoms begin. Strokes come on suddenly and can cause a range of symptoms. Learn how to recognize these 5 symptoms of stroke.

Swine Flu's Fall Return: 3 Steps We Must Take Now

The H1N1 influenza virus known as swine flu first hit public consciousness just weeks ago, then quickly spread from Mexico to at least four other continents, 30 countries, and more than 5,000 people, reaching near-pandemic levels before subsiding. So far, the global outbreak has caused milder and less transmissible disease and far fewer deaths than feared. But experts are saying that the virus could pose a bigger threat when flu season begins in the fall. U.S. News's Dr. Bernadine Healy proposes 3 major actions the government needs to take now that could shape what happens if and when the new strain of flu returns. Speeding up diagnosis would allow communities to figure out how to tailor vaccination programs more precisely and distribute antiviral medicine; both vaccines and drugs are apt to be in short supply if things turn bad next fall, Healy writes.

Learn how swine flu could become a pandemic, and explore whether alternative remedies can help ward off swine flu. Here are 14 things you should know about swine flu and 5 ways to prepare your family.

Megan Johnson

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