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Men's Health

Federal Research On Men's Health Issues Bringing About Changes

Seven of 10 Americans who haven't visited a doctor in the last 5 years are men, according to research. Men are less likely than women to be screened regularly for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and cancers, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Issues in men's health include diseases or aspects of health care delivery that are either unique to men, or more prevalent in men, the AHRQ says.

The AHRQ has as a major goal to bring about improvements in the Nation's health care system by translating the results of research into everyday clinical practice and public policy.

Here is some of the work that is coming out of AHRQ research projects on the subject of men's health:

Development of health status measurement instruments. Sixty percent of urologists now use a scientifically valid patient questionnaire, developed with AHRQ support, to measure the symptoms and quality of life for elderly men with benign prostate disease. This instrument has changed the way urologists and other practitioners work with patients to make their health care decisions.

Nonsurgical treatments in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a nonmalignant condition that can cause chronic urinary problems, sometimes leading to surgery. Although surgery can be effective in helping men with moderate symptoms of BPH, nonsurgical treatments such as watchful waiting are safe choices for men less bothered by these problems. This research led to a 50-percent decrease in rates of surgery for BPH during the 1990s.

Misuse of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood screening tests. Half of all PSA tests are performed on patients outside the optimal age range or performed too often. The use of PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer is controversial since some benign prostate conditions also give a positive result and the benefits of treatment are uncertain.

Heart attack predictive instrument. AHRQ funded the development of a special software tool that can help emergency room doctors using electrocardiographs (ECGs) predict more quickly if a patient is having a heart attack and whether he should receive drugs that help prevent repeat attacks. This tool could prevent 200,000 unnecessary hospitalizations and more than 100,000 admissions to cardiac care units yearly, saving $728 million.

Chest pain units. Special hospital units for diagnosing and treating chest pain are now more common in big city hospitals following AHRQ research that showed treatment within 24 hours of a heart attack has the greatest effect on long-term survival. These chest pain units have reduced the rate of missed heart attack diagnoses, from 4.5 percent to 0.04 percent, and saved nearly $3 million.

Warfarin to reduce chance of stroke. Giving older patients with atrial fibrillation-rapid and erraticheart beat-a blood-thinning drug called warfarin reduces their odds of having a stroke. Subsequent to AHRQ research, Medicare Peer Review Organizations implemented projects in 42 states to increase anticoagulation rates in certain categories of patients.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ),

© 2004 Health Resources Publishing