Health minister urges seniors to have free flu vaccine

More than 4.5 million Australians who are most at risk during this year’s flu season can now access a free influenza vaccine under the Federal Government’s National Immunisation Program.  

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said last year was Australia’s worst for influenza in almost a decade, mirroring a global trend, with more than 250,000 Australians testing positive for influenza and double the normal hospitalisations.  

He urged all Australians to consider having a flu shot this year.

Taking the temperature on women's health

All women are being urged to take part in an annual survey launched this week to assess their health needs, fears and concerns.

The anonymous survey is being conducted by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, a national not-for-profit organisation committed to improving the knowledge of women's health throughout their lives, and to providing a trusted world-class health service for women.

“The results of our annual women’s health survey are used in so many ways to help women and their health professionals,” says Jean Haile’s Janet Michelmore.

Seven lifestyle factors could lead to dementia

Half of all dementia cases in Australia could be attributed to seven modifiable lifestyle factors, new research has shown.

The factors were midlife hypertension, diabetes, low educational attainment, smoking, physical inactivity, mid-life obesity, and depression, according to Professor Kaarin Anstey, chief investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) and principal Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia.

A break from Facebook can cut stress levels

There may be more benefits to deleting your Facebook account than just protecting your private data – it could also reduce your stress levels.

A University of Queensland research team investigated the effects of a short break from Facebook on a person’s stress and well-being.

“Taking a Facebook break for just five days reduced a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol,” research team leader Dr Eric Vanman said.

Three quarters of Australians struggle with health fund costs

More than three quarters of Australians are struggling with the cost of private health insurance.

A consumer report by Choice has found the cost of private health insurance was second to electricity as the top cost of living concern.

A total of 77 per cent of those with health insurance said it was taking its toll on their household budgets.

Earlier this year, a Choice survey found 70 per cent of Australians who did not have private health insurance said it was because it was too expensive.

Seniors call for health cost shake-up

National Seniors has renewed its appeal to the Federal Government to focus on inefficiencies in the health system, saying average out-of-pocket expenses had increased by three times the inflation rate over the past decade.

National Seniors’ Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said revelations at the weekend in media reports that the Australian Medical Association (AMA) was recommending specialists charge up to three times more than the Medicare fee for hospital procedures showed why many older people were struggling to pay health costs.

Shake it up on World Parkinson's Day

Events will be held throughout Australia and the world on 11 April for World Parkinson’s Day to raise awareness and research funds for treatments and a cure for the progressive degenerative condition.

Shake it Up Foundation Australia said that the disease affected 80,000 people with 32 people diagnosed every day. 

“Parkinson’s is a very individual condition, with each person experiencing different symptoms,” a Shake It Up spokesperson said. 

Obesity trigger identified in the human gut

New research has found serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ ‘chemical that transmits messages between the body’s nerve cells, can make you fat.

Seratonin is a key ingredient for happiness and sadness but scientists have found it is also a force in our body’s weight gain and calorie control.

Australian and overseas researchers have uncovered more evidence showing elevated levels of serotonin in the gut were bad for the human metabolism, increasing blood glucose and fat mass and putting us in danger of developing diabetes and obesity.

Half Australian adults intend to skip annual flu shot this year

More than one in two Australian adults have no plans to be vaccinated against flu this year.

Research by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia showed the virus killed an average of 3,000 people each year, most of them aged over 65.

The guild’s national president, George Tambassis, said 77 per cent of people surveyed were unaware the flu virus could remain active when airborne for 45 minutes or more and 57 per cent believed they were at low risk of catching the flu.

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