The daily broadcast of medical reports, scientific studies and sociological statistics can cause your ears to ring.
Sometimes a report will contradict the findings of another issued just days earlier. More often, compelling snapshots of the American experience are revealed in the numbers tucked down near the bottom of an abstract statistic, parked far away from the statistic shouting the loudest up top.
We've sifted through many of the reports that have surfaced in the last month or so and taken a closer look. Below is a sampling of interesting nuggets found therein, each shining some light on life, death and the time in between.
One in three
U.S. adults say they have gone online to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Only 53 percent of these people followed up with a visit to the doctor.
The number of new sexually transmitted infections that Americans contracted in 2008, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treating them will cost U.S. patients and insurance companies $15.6 billion over the course of the infections. Human papillomavirus (HPV) was the most common infection.
Of adults have gone to the emergency room or been hospitalized unexpectedly in the past 12 months, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
The number of deaths that could be prevented over the next decade if Americans cut their salt intake to within national guidelines, according to a study out of the University of California at San Francisco. That finding is based on computer simulations using data from various studies on the effects of extra sodium on blood pressure and heart risks. The Institute of Medicine recommends most healthy people get 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, with an upper limit of 2,300 mg. But the average American eats roughly 3,600 mg a day, largely through processed food.
Less than 1/2
Of U.S. adults received health insurance through their employer in 2012, according to a Gallup poll.
Of hospital-based physicians surveyed said they routinely see more patients than they can safely manage, leading in some cases to unneeded tests, medication errors and deaths, according to a survey by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. A quarter of the doctors said this patient overload prevented them from fully discussing treatment options or answering questions.
Were 20 percent less likely to die than other people during the period of one medical study, says Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and preventive cardiology at John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. But, those who run more than 20 miles per week, "which is not a whole lot," Lavie says — seem to lose that benefit. "At superhigh doses ... there's actually potential for cardiac harm."
Hysterectomies are performed annually in the U.S., according to researcher Dr. Jason Wright, making it the most commonly performed surgical procedure for nonmalignant, female pelvic conditions.