Monday, 20 March 2017

Canadians with CF live longer!

A study came out this week that showed Canadians with CF live on average 10 years longer than Americans with CF, 50.9 years vs 40.6. The researchers think there are three main factors between the countries that cause the difference:

1) Canadian CF doctors were the first to bring in a high-fat, high-protein diet in the 70s that helped children with CF absorb more calories and were therefor not a malnourished.
2) The better Canadian access to health care. Canadian patients are more likely to see their doctor if something is wrong and not have problems getting medication.
3) All Canadians are more likely to get a transplant when needed (probably also related to not having to worry about the cost of treatment or hospitalization), which increases the lifespan of people with CF.

I think the access to health care would make such a big difference. It would be terrifying to be worried anytime I thought something was wrong because I couldn't afford a check-up or x-ray. The cost would prevent many people from not seeking treatment immediately when they had a flare up.

It's a luxury not to have to worry about the cost of a doctor's appointment or a lung transplant (besides the extra expenses of living in Toronto). As a result, I'm more likely to call the doctor anytime I feel something is wrong. Being able to get early treatment makes a huge difference since treating infections early is important with CF.

There is one thing that the people on the facebook lung transplant group I'm part of says that the article got wrong.

The article said the American system of classifying who gets priority for lung transplants is a disadvantage for people with CF. However, the person in the group said that the new system actually helps patients with CF move up on the list since it now looks at how patients progress while listed  instead of how they were when initally listed. If that is the case, Americans with CF should be now getting more lung transplants which would narrow the life expectancy gap between countries.

I know some people on social media were touting the study of Canadians living longer to cheer how great Canada is but I think it shows more how the US health care system is failing Americans who are chronically ill. It's sad that the fluke of where you're born determines how long you live. I mean, it does for everyone with regards to access to clean water, food, and war. But to have such a difference between two developed countries is surprising. Although the US medical system is so different to Canadas that I wonder how life expectancy would compare to a country with a similar or better health care system, like the UK or Sweden.

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