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Soaring rates for obesity, diabetes and hypertension are fueling a serious gap between the need for kidney transplants and the availability of those organs, impacting Latinos and other Los Angeles patients who are in renal failure.

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Soaring rates for obesity, diabetes and hypertension are fueling a serious gap between the need for kidney transplants and the availability of those organs, impacting Latinos and other Los Angeles patients who are in renal failure.

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This is one in a series of articles examining the relationship between housing loss and death in San Francisco. Check out the previous articles in the series, Looking for death,Gunpowder on the streets, and Will losing your home kill you?

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But the only way doctors and patients and their families will get a really accurate handle on prognosis with current therapies is if a huge prospective study is undertaken or at least a national registry that includes tens of thousands of patients seen at many academic centers and those seen in the community by both cardiologists and general practitioners.

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For the last week I have been mulling over the name heart failure, questioning why the collective conditions that bear its name ever got such a name, and looking into the very murky area of heart failure death statistics.  Many, many of us who were shocked to get the frightening diagnosis “heart failure” do not have hearts that have failed.  We got treated, some more quickly than others, and went right on with our lives.  Others are not so lucky and die of heart failure, sometimes suddenly and sometimes after years.  Trying to discuss what heart failure is g

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Here’s what we’re checking out today:

Heart Health: More American adults are taking medication to lower their blood pressure, but the number of Americans with hypertension is holding steady, according to new CDC data, reports the AP’s Mike Stobbe.

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For the first time in U.S. history, the current generation of children have a lower life expectancy than their parents, due mostly to obesity and other diet-related diseases.

The strain on our health-care system caused by diabetes and obesity alone can be calculated in the billions. We are just beginning to see the extreme negative ramifications to our communal health brought about by the switch in the 50’s and 60’s from a local farming culture to a food culture based on super-markets and fast-food restaurants. 

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What are the causes of cancer? What makes us older? If lifestyle choices like smoking cigarettes or drinking cola increase our risk of cancer, what can we do to try reverse or change these decisions? Is it even possible to reverse the damage? How proven are these theories?

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At a conference like today's "Improving Health Literacy in Los Angeles," which focused on the sensitive issue of improving health literacy in some of Los Angeles' underserved communities, racial stereotypes should be a far-away concern.

But when the time came for tables of conference attendees to report back to the whole after doing a group interactive activity, it became clear that even the most well-meaning and forward-thinking health professionals have far to go.

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Mike Tharp is the executive editor of the Merced Sun-Star. He attended the Mar. 2010 seminar for the California Health Journalism Fellows as the editor of Fellow Danielle Gaines, where he met the subject of this column, Dr. Edward Newton, chair of Emergency Medicine at the Los Angeles County USC Hospital.

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