COMMENTS: Heart & Pancreas

CBS' Jon LaPook and ABC's John McKenzie (embargoed link) picked up on an American Heart Association announcement that the 25% fewer people are now dying of heart disease than at the end of last century. Their statistics were confusing. McKenzie said there were "a staggering 160,000 lives saved in just six years." CBS anchor Katie Couric, introducing LaPook's Eye on your Health report, said that the 160,000 statistic referred to the annual reduction in deaths comparing 2005 with 1999, not the six year total. Does anyone know which is the correct timeframe?

Yet anyway, neither McKenzie nor LaPook was clear about the interpretation of the lower heart death rate. Does it mean we are living longer? Or does it mean something else is killing us first before our hearts give out? For instance: diabetes. That was the Disease of the Day for NBC's Robert Bazell. He contrasted two treatments: the standard combination of blood-sugar medication and weight-loss advice versus the $30,000 alternative of stomach surgery. Research found that after two years the cure rate for the standard was 13% versus 73% for the surgery experiment. "Surgery could become more common," he speculated.


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