Healthcare Archive


Is U.S. life expectancy getting shorter?

A 2023 study found that between the 1930s and the mid-1980s, life expectancy in the United States was generally longer than in other wealthy nations. However, since the mid-1980s, the United States has been doing progressively and dramatically worse. Among many reasons for this change is the fact that the country doesn't make health care as widely available to all citizens as do other wealthy countries. For example, tens of millions of people in the United States do not have health insurance. Ultimately, it will be up to society to make health improvements nationwide.

Can AI answer medical questions better than your doctor?

When a study asked doctors and artificial intelligence to respond to selected patient questions, a chatbot received higher ratings for empathy and quality. But a closer look at the research spotlights important limitations and findings.

Do you need a medical escort?

Some minor medical procedures require patients to bring a medical escort because they involve anesthesia or sedation, which can leave patients groggy or feeling ill afterward. Finding a medical escort can be problematic for older adults who live alone or have no family members or friends who can fill in. Public transportation also won't suffice, since drivers can't accompany customers into their homes. People in need of a medical escort can seek help from community organizations or check with their area's Office on Aging or home health agencies for such services.

Reframing hospice and palliative care

People who choose hospice care forego aggressive medical interventions, but still receive symptom relief and comfort measures. Palliative care differs by offering symptom-focused relief for people who are seriously ill at any stage. Routine hospice care supports patients in their home with medication and visits, while patients who need round-the-clock care can be cared for in either a hospital-based hospice unit, dedicated hospice facility, or nursing home. Patients who choose hospice receive support to carry out end-of-life priorities.

Wrong-sized blood pressure cuff can throw off readings

Choosing the right cuff size for automated home blood pressure monitors can help ensure an accurate reading. A 2023 study found that using a "regular"-sized arm cuff with an automated device resulted in inaccurate blood pressure readings for people who needed a small, large, or extra-large sized cuff.

Why do medical guidelines change frequently?

Medical recommendations and guidelines, such as colon cancer screening, seem to change often. These contradictions in large part reflect different expert opinions based on the changing scientific information. Rely on your doctor to help determine how these changes may apply to you.

The secret to finding a primary care provider: Be flexible

People hunting for a new primary care provider may have a hard time finding a doctor who's taking new patients. But a number of primary care providers can do the job, including four types of physicians and two types of advanced practitioners. Doctors who provide primary care include internal medicine specialists, med-peds physicians, family practice doctors, and geriatricians. Advanced practitioners who provide primary care include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Experts say the type of provider isn't as important as simply having a primary care provider in place.

Staying safe while getting well

Preventable adverse medical events occur in up to 7% of hospital admissions and sometimes can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications. Examples include inaccurate medications, unexpected infections, and problems during surgery. To help protect yourself from these events in the hospital, have a trusted partner be with you as much as possible, inquire about each of your medications when offered, and work with your nurse to move around safely.

Study questions commercial men's health clinics services

Consumers should be wary about direct-to-consumer men's health clinics, as many offer costly treatments not supported by evidence and lack medical oversight, according to a 2023 investigative study.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.