Here’s What’s Keeping College Students From Getting The Sleep They Need

Late last month, I visited the California offices of Chegg, a higher education company that specializes in helping college students with everything from affordable textbook rentals to online tutoring. Lately, Chegg has committed to gaining a deeper understanding of another subject central to college students’ lives: sleep. And as Chegg’s CEO Dan Rosensweig and I began a conversation with an audience of Chegg employees, Dan shared the results of a new Chegg survey on the sleep habits of college students.

The survey’s findings bring valuable data to a familiar problem: for an alarming number of students, college has been turned into one long training ground for burnout. The motto “sleep, grades, social life: pick two,” or some version of this, can be heard on campuses across the country. The combination of academic pressures, social opportunities — and for many, newfound freedoms and the resulting challenge of time management — creates an environment where sleep doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

So as thousands of young people across the country prepare to head off to college, here are a few findings from the Chegg study — which surveyed 473 students from a mix of public and private colleges — that I found most illuminating.

Most students know there is a link between sleeping and academic performance.

Over half of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that students who do better in school probably get more sleep. (They’re right, of course. A 2014 study by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota showed that the effect of sleep deprivation on grades is roughly equivalent to binge drinking and drug use.)

And the vast majority of students want to get the sleep they need.

Fully 84 percent said 8 or more hours would be “ideal” on a school night.

But very few are meeting that goal.

Only 16 percent usually get 8 or more hours on a school night, with far more (79 percent) sleeping 5 to 7 hours a night.

Today’s college students are constantly connected.

Students overwhelmingly cited time spent online and with electronic devices as significant obstacles to sleep. Asked to name the reasons that keep them from sleeping, 51 percent cited too much time online doing non-school related activities — second only to having too much homework.

Even in bed.

A whopping 86 percent said they take their devices to bed with them — for email, texting and other non-school activities. And 90 percent leave their phones on when they go to sleep.

The good news?

Chegg’s survey found that most college students have plenty of free time each day (much of it, for better or worse, is spent online). So there’s an opportunity for students to set aside some of that time for sleep, whether that means going to bed 30 minutes earlier or finding time during the day for a nap.

And the fact that so many students know how much sleep they should be getting, and are aware of how tethered they are to their devices, is at least a first step in changing habits. As more studies like this emerge — and as I was researching The Sleep Revolution, I was struck by the sheer number of new studies adding to our understanding of sleep’s vital role in every aspect of our lives — people will be more equipped to make changes, even small ones, to help them get the sleep they need.

That’s why HuffPost launched the Sleep Revolution College Tour, and why we continue to tell stories around sleep’s impact on our lives — everything from the military’s rediscovery of sleep as an essential tool of judgment to the ways athletes increasingly view it as the ultimate performance enhancer. As we approach the start of another academic year, with all its possibilities, there’s no better time than now to renew our relationship with sleep and savor all the benefits it brings.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Late last month, I visited the California offices of Chegg, a higher education company that specializes in helping college students with everything from affordable textbook rentals to online tutoring. Lately, Chegg has committed to gaining a deeper understanding of another subject central to college students’ lives: sleep. And as Chegg’s CEO Dan Rosensweig and I began a conversation with an audience of Chegg employees, Dan shared the results of a new Chegg survey on the sleep habits of college students.

The survey’s findings bring valuable data to a familiar problem: for an alarming number of students, college has been turned into one long training ground for burnout. The motto “sleep, grades, social life: pick two,” or some version of this, can be heard on campuses across the country. The combination of academic pressures, social opportunities — and for many, newfound freedoms and the resulting challenge of time management — creates an environment where sleep doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

So as thousands of young people across the country prepare to head off to college, here are a few findings from the Chegg study — which surveyed 473 students from a mix of public and private colleges — that I found most illuminating.

Most students know there is a link between sleeping and academic performance.

Over half of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that students who do better in school probably get more sleep. (They’re right, of course. A 2014 study by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota showed that the effect of sleep deprivation on grades is roughly equivalent to binge drinking and drug use.)

And the vast majority of students want to get the sleep they need.

Fully 84 percent said 8 or more hours would be “ideal” on a school night.

But very few are meeting that goal.

Only 16 percent usually get 8 or more hours on a school night, with far more (79 percent) sleeping 5 to 7 hours a night.

Today’s college students are constantly connected.

Students overwhelmingly cited time spent online and with electronic devices as significant obstacles to sleep. Asked to name the reasons that keep them from sleeping, 51 percent cited too much time online doing non-school related activities — second only to having too much homework.

Even in bed.

A whopping 86 percent said they take their devices to bed with them — for email, texting and other non-school activities. And 90 percent leave their phones on when they go to sleep.

The good news?

Chegg’s survey found that most college students have plenty of free time each day (much of it, for better or worse, is spent online). So there’s an opportunity for students to set aside some of that time for sleep, whether that means going to bed 30 minutes earlier or finding time during the day for a nap.

And the fact that so many students know how much sleep they should be getting, and are aware of how tethered they are to their devices, is at least a first step in changing habits. As more studies like this emerge — and as I was researching The Sleep Revolution, I was struck by the sheer number of new studies adding to our understanding of sleep’s vital role in every aspect of our lives — people will be more equipped to make changes, even small ones, to help them get the sleep they need.

That’s why HuffPost launched the Sleep Revolution College Tour, and why we continue to tell stories around sleep’s impact on our lives — everything from the military’s rediscovery of sleep as an essential tool of judgment to the ways athletes increasingly view it as the ultimate performance enhancer. As we approach the start of another academic year, with all its possibilities, there’s no better time than now to renew our relationship with sleep and savor all the benefits it brings.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

TV News Stories About Birth Control Quote Politicians And Priests More Than Medical Experts

By Elizabeth W. Patton, University of Michigan and Michelle Moniz, University of Michigan

Ninety-nine percent of reproductive age U.S. women who have ever had sex have used contraception at some point in their lives. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, more people have access to contraception than ever before.

As obstetrician/gynecologists, we help patients choose the contraceptive method that best suits them and explain how they work, their failure rates and potential side effects.

But we also know that patients (and the public) get a lot of information about health and medicine from the media in general, and TV in particular. How the media frame stories and whom they choose as sources might influence how people view an issue.

So we decided to examine how contraception was covered during the nightly news shows on the big three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). And it turns out these stories often portray contraception as a political or social issue, which means that actual medical information about contraception rarely makes it onto the air.

Medical experts are rarely quoted

In our study, published in the journal Contraception, we looked at a total of 116 stories about contraception that aired on the nightly news programs for ABC, CBS and NBC between January 2010 and July 2014. This period covered the months leading up to the signing of the ACA through to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell in June 2014, a case in which a privately owned company’s owners (Hobby Lobby) argued that the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement violated their freedom of religion.

For each story, we determined what birth control methods were covered, the people interviewed or quoted in each story and what information the story included.

We found that most stories focused on political or social aspects of contraception, such as controversies over contraceptive coverage by insurance plans or over the counter access to contraception.

Fewer than one-third of stories featured any medical information at all. In fact, the information we as doctors consider most critical – like the failure rate of a method, how to use it and potential side effects – was missing from nearly all TV news stories about contraception.

Only 11 percent of stories used a medical professional as a source, and only 3 percent of those were ob-gyns. Politicians and government leaders (40 percent of stories), the general public (25 percent of stories) or Catholic Church leaders (16 percent of stories) were quoted or interviewed more often than medical professionals.

The stories we reviewed covered many different types of birth control, including the oral contraceptive pill, the emergency contraceptive pill, condoms and long-acting reversible contraceptives (often called LARC for short) such as intrauterine devices (IUDS) and implants, like Nexplanon.

LARC methods are recommended as a first choice contraceptive for most people by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are the most effective forms of reversible contraception. But these methods were mentioned the least often. IUDs appeared in only 4 percent of stories and implants in only 1 percent.

While our study did focus on a politically charged time period around the ACA, coverage patterns didn’t seem to change when we looked at stories about contraception unrelated to the ACA. We saw similar topic and source selection in these stories too.


Demonstrators chant after the Hobby Lobby ruling outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 30, 2014.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Framing matters

In 2015 almost 24 million people watched the nightly network TV news. The median age of the nightly TV news audience skews older, ranging from 45 for ABC to 52 and 53 for NBC and CBS, respectively.
Women use contraception, however, throughout their reproductive years, from their teens to their 40’s. In fact, based on the most recent national data, more women in their 30’s and 40’s are using contraception than their younger counterparts.

Even if younger women aren’t tuning into these broadcasts, their social networks may well include people who do. Research suggests that many younger reproductive aged people get health information and news from their social networks, so TV news content may impact many more people than those who view it directly.

While most methods of contraception are intended for women, that doesn’t mean contraceptive access is only a women’s issue. It also affects men who have female partners, family and friends who share information and advice, and all of us as citizens who are affected by government policies around contraception.

Framing contraception primarily as a political or social issue rather than as a medical issue often means that TV news stories don’t cover the most effective contraceptive methods and information on method use, benefits and harms.

It also leaves some of the most knowledgeable sources about contraception, medical professionals like us, on the sidelines in favor of comment from political, advocacy group and church leaders. Ultimately, this could deprive the public of vital health information and understanding about contraception.

Providing context is part of the media’s job

Our research identified key gaps in nightly network TV news coverage of contraception that may affect the information some people in the United States are getting about birth control.

But these gaps aren’t insurmountable. Research analyzing media coverage of the HPV vaccine and the medication tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment and prevention found higher rates of medical professionals being used as sources. Coverage of these issues shows that it is possible to highlight both the social and medical aspects of a news story to convey the full context to the audience.

Providing context is critical to helping viewers understand topics and events in the news. Contraception is multifaceted, and the social and political angles shouldn’t be ignored in media narratives. But the medical and public health aspects of contraception are critical to understanding this issue, and are too important to leave out.

The Conversation

Elizabeth W. Patton, Clinical Lecturer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan and Michelle Moniz, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

By Elizabeth W. Patton, University of Michigan and Michelle Moniz, University of Michigan

Ninety-nine percent of reproductive age U.S. women who have ever had sex have used contraception at some point in their lives. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, more people have access to contraception than ever before.

As obstetrician/gynecologists, we help patients choose the contraceptive method that best suits them and explain how they work, their failure rates and potential side effects.

But we also know that patients (and the public) get a lot of information about health and medicine from the media in general, and TV in particular. How the media frame stories and whom they choose as sources might influence how people view an issue.

So we decided to examine how contraception was covered during the nightly news shows on the big three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). And it turns out these stories often portray contraception as a political or social issue, which means that actual medical information about contraception rarely makes it onto the air.

Medical experts are rarely quoted

In our study, published in the journal Contraception, we looked at a total of 116 stories about contraception that aired on the nightly news programs for ABC, CBS and NBC between January 2010 and July 2014. This period covered the months leading up to the signing of the ACA through to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell in June 2014, a case in which a privately owned company’s owners (Hobby Lobby) argued that the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement violated their freedom of religion.

For each story, we determined what birth control methods were covered, the people interviewed or quoted in each story and what information the story included.

We found that most stories focused on political or social aspects of contraception, such as controversies over contraceptive coverage by insurance plans or over the counter access to contraception.

Fewer than one-third of stories featured any medical information at all. In fact, the information we as doctors consider most critical – like the failure rate of a method, how to use it and potential side effects – was missing from nearly all TV news stories about contraception.

Only 11 percent of stories used a medical professional as a source, and only 3 percent of those were ob-gyns. Politicians and government leaders (40 percent of stories), the general public (25 percent of stories) or Catholic Church leaders (16 percent of stories) were quoted or interviewed more often than medical professionals.

The stories we reviewed covered many different types of birth control, including the oral contraceptive pill, the emergency contraceptive pill, condoms and long-acting reversible contraceptives (often called LARC for short) such as intrauterine devices (IUDS) and implants, like Nexplanon.

LARC methods are recommended as a first choice contraceptive for most people by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are the most effective forms of reversible contraception. But these methods were mentioned the least often. IUDs appeared in only 4 percent of stories and implants in only 1 percent.

While our study did focus on a politically charged time period around the ACA, coverage patterns didn’t seem to change when we looked at stories about contraception unrelated to the ACA. We saw similar topic and source selection in these stories too.


Demonstrators chant after the Hobby Lobby ruling outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 30, 2014.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Framing matters

In 2015 almost 24 million people watched the nightly network TV news. The median age of the nightly TV news audience skews older, ranging from 45 for ABC to 52 and 53 for NBC and CBS, respectively.
Women use contraception, however, throughout their reproductive years, from their teens to their 40’s. In fact, based on the most recent national data, more women in their 30’s and 40’s are using contraception than their younger counterparts.

Even if younger women aren’t tuning into these broadcasts, their social networks may well include people who do. Research suggests that many younger reproductive aged people get health information and news from their social networks, so TV news content may impact many more people than those who view it directly.

While most methods of contraception are intended for women, that doesn’t mean contraceptive access is only a women’s issue. It also affects men who have female partners, family and friends who share information and advice, and all of us as citizens who are affected by government policies around contraception.

Framing contraception primarily as a political or social issue rather than as a medical issue often means that TV news stories don’t cover the most effective contraceptive methods and information on method use, benefits and harms.

It also leaves some of the most knowledgeable sources about contraception, medical professionals like us, on the sidelines in favor of comment from political, advocacy group and church leaders. Ultimately, this could deprive the public of vital health information and understanding about contraception.

Providing context is part of the media’s job

Our research identified key gaps in nightly network TV news coverage of contraception that may affect the information some people in the United States are getting about birth control.

But these gaps aren’t insurmountable. Research analyzing media coverage of the HPV vaccine and the medication tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment and prevention found higher rates of medical professionals being used as sources. Coverage of these issues shows that it is possible to highlight both the social and medical aspects of a news story to convey the full context to the audience.

Providing context is critical to helping viewers understand topics and events in the news. Contraception is multifaceted, and the social and political angles shouldn’t be ignored in media narratives. But the medical and public health aspects of contraception are critical to understanding this issue, and are too important to leave out.

The Conversation

Elizabeth W. Patton, Clinical Lecturer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan and Michelle Moniz, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Heart Disease in Cats: A Silent Killer

Last week, a client brought her senior cat to have a pre-anesthetic blood test drawn by one of my certified veterinary technicians for a future dental procedure. Unexpectedly, this client also brought her recently adopted handsome young cat, named Apollo, for a nail trim. Since Apollo was a new patient to our clinic, my technician recommended a complete physical examination before the nail trim. Without any hesitation, the owner elected to have Apollo examined by one of my veterinary associates.

While Apollo was awaiting his examination, he let out a blood-curdling scream while sitting on my client’s lap. Only a few feet away, my technician raced back into the room to find a non-responsive cat in my client’s arms. My technician scooped Apollo up and immediately took him to our treatment room where we started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. After 15 minutes of aggressively trying to revive him, we regrettably could not resuscitate him.

Heart disease in cats is a life-threatening medical condition. Tragically, in some cats it can be a silent killer. At least once or twice a year, one of my feline cat owners will come home to find their supposedly “happy and healthy” cat suddenly limp on their floor. Unlike most dogs with heart disease, many cats with heart disease show no symptoms: no cough, no lethargy and no decline in appetite. Some may show subtle signs of increased respiratory rate (greater than 30 breathes per minute at rest) or greater abdominal effort with each breathe but these changes frequently go unnoticed by even the most observant cat owner. In the midst of a cardiac crisis, these pets will have labored breathing, pale mucous membranes, profound weakness, severe pain, and /or may experience numbness in their limbs

Who is at risk for developing heart disease?
Any aged cat and breed is at risk for developing heart disease but it is unlikely to be seen in cats less than 6 months of age. According to a number of studies, 16% of all apparently healthy cats have heart disease.

In the Maine Coon and Ragdoll breeds there is an inheritable, genetic mutation that predisposes them to heart disease. If you own either breed, ask your veterinarian if it would be advisable to test your cat for this mutation. In the future, I anticipate geneticists will discover other mutations responsible for heart disease in other breeds of cats.

How does one diagnose heart disease in cats BEFORE they have a crisis?

1. A physical examination by your veterinarian is essential but no guarantee that your pet is free of heart disease. Using a stethoscope, your veterinarian may detect a heart murmur (an audible turbulence of blood flow in the heart) or an irregular rhythm of heartbeats. Regrettably, the absence of a heart murmur does NOT mean heart disease DOES NOT exist – for only 50% of cats with heart disease have a heart murmur. An irregular heart rhythm is more consistently recognized in pets with heart disease. However, there is a 50% chance that your cat with a heart murmur has heart disease and it should be investigated further.

2. Radiography of the thorax (chest) is a quick, non-invasive diagnostic test that can be performed in almost every veterinary clinic. A thoracic radiograph provides meaningful information about the overall size and shape of the heart, as well as the character of the lung tissue. Unfortunately, the sensitivity and specificity of this tool for heart disease is not as great as we would like it to be. In the most common heart disease in cats, called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the walls of the heart are thickened, the interior chamber size is reduced, but the overall heart size may appear normal on the radiograph especially in the early stage of this disease.

3. The Cardiopet pro-BNP Test by IDEXX Diagnostic Laboratory is a screening test for heart disease in cats. This blood test measures the NT-proBNP hormone that is released by stretched or stressed muscle cells in the heart. The rise in the level of this hormone is proportional to the abnormal stretching and stress of heart muscles. This test has an 85% sensitivity for detecting heart disease in cats. False positive and false negatives do exist with this test. Non-cardiac patients with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), hypertension (high blood pressure), or/and kidney disease can have elevated NT-proBNP levels. Cats with elevated levels of this hormone should have a cardiac ultrasound to verify the diagnosis of heart disease.

4. A Cardiac Ultrasound is the gold standard for diagnosing and staging heart disease in cats.
If a heart murmur or an irregular heart rhythm is detected in a cat, I strongly recommend a veterinary cardiologist perform a cardiac ultrasound. The good news is that 50% of apparently healthy cats with heart murmurs have normal cardiac ultrasounds. So having a heart murmur is not necessarily a death sentence for your cat – but just a warning light that there may be a problem.

Unfortunately, a single normal cardiac ultrasound does not eliminate the possibility of heart disease to develop in the future. For high-risk breeds, like Ragdolls and Maine Coons, and cats with heart murmurs that may vary in intensity over time, your veterinarian may recommend periodic repeat cardiac ultrasounds.

Cats are very secretive and easily hide their illnesses from their owners. Apollo’s death reminds us all about the fragility of life, to appreciate good health, and enjoy the time we have together. Although we cannot cure heart disease in cats today, it can be medically managed to extend your pet’s quality of life. Please don’t forget to schedule your pet’s annual physical examination appointment with your veterinarian so your cat can live its’ best life.

Dr. Donna Solomon is a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of Chicago and invites you to email her your questions or future topic ideas to [email protected]

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Last week, a client brought her senior cat to have a pre-anesthetic blood test drawn by one of my certified veterinary technicians for a future dental procedure. Unexpectedly, this client also brought her recently adopted handsome young cat, named Apollo, for a nail trim. Since Apollo was a new patient to our clinic, my technician recommended a complete physical examination before the nail trim. Without any hesitation, the owner elected to have Apollo examined by one of my veterinary associates.

While Apollo was awaiting his examination, he let out a blood-curdling scream while sitting on my client’s lap. Only a few feet away, my technician raced back into the room to find a non-responsive cat in my client’s arms. My technician scooped Apollo up and immediately took him to our treatment room where we started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. After 15 minutes of aggressively trying to revive him, we regrettably could not resuscitate him.

Heart disease in cats is a life-threatening medical condition. Tragically, in some cats it can be a silent killer. At least once or twice a year, one of my feline cat owners will come home to find their supposedly “happy and healthy” cat suddenly limp on their floor. Unlike most dogs with heart disease, many cats with heart disease show no symptoms: no cough, no lethargy and no decline in appetite. Some may show subtle signs of increased respiratory rate (greater than 30 breathes per minute at rest) or greater abdominal effort with each breathe but these changes frequently go unnoticed by even the most observant cat owner. In the midst of a cardiac crisis, these pets will have labored breathing, pale mucous membranes, profound weakness, severe pain, and /or may experience numbness in their limbs

Who is at risk for developing heart disease?
Any aged cat and breed is at risk for developing heart disease but it is unlikely to be seen in cats less than 6 months of age. According to a number of studies, 16% of all apparently healthy cats have heart disease.

In the Maine Coon and Ragdoll breeds there is an inheritable, genetic mutation that predisposes them to heart disease. If you own either breed, ask your veterinarian if it would be advisable to test your cat for this mutation. In the future, I anticipate geneticists will discover other mutations responsible for heart disease in other breeds of cats.

How does one diagnose heart disease in cats BEFORE they have a crisis?

1. A physical examination by your veterinarian is essential but no guarantee that your pet is free of heart disease. Using a stethoscope, your veterinarian may detect a heart murmur (an audible turbulence of blood flow in the heart) or an irregular rhythm of heartbeats. Regrettably, the absence of a heart murmur does NOT mean heart disease DOES NOT exist – for only 50% of cats with heart disease have a heart murmur. An irregular heart rhythm is more consistently recognized in pets with heart disease. However, there is a 50% chance that your cat with a heart murmur has heart disease and it should be investigated further.

2. Radiography of the thorax (chest) is a quick, non-invasive diagnostic test that can be performed in almost every veterinary clinic. A thoracic radiograph provides meaningful information about the overall size and shape of the heart, as well as the character of the lung tissue. Unfortunately, the sensitivity and specificity of this tool for heart disease is not as great as we would like it to be. In the most common heart disease in cats, called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the walls of the heart are thickened, the interior chamber size is reduced, but the overall heart size may appear normal on the radiograph especially in the early stage of this disease.

3. The Cardiopet pro-BNP Test by IDEXX Diagnostic Laboratory is a screening test for heart disease in cats. This blood test measures the NT-proBNP hormone that is released by stretched or stressed muscle cells in the heart. The rise in the level of this hormone is proportional to the abnormal stretching and stress of heart muscles. This test has an 85% sensitivity for detecting heart disease in cats. False positive and false negatives do exist with this test. Non-cardiac patients with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), hypertension (high blood pressure), or/and kidney disease can have elevated NT-proBNP levels. Cats with elevated levels of this hormone should have a cardiac ultrasound to verify the diagnosis of heart disease.

4. A Cardiac Ultrasound is the gold standard for diagnosing and staging heart disease in cats.
If a heart murmur or an irregular heart rhythm is detected in a cat, I strongly recommend a veterinary cardiologist perform a cardiac ultrasound. The good news is that 50% of apparently healthy cats with heart murmurs have normal cardiac ultrasounds. So having a heart murmur is not necessarily a death sentence for your cat – but just a warning light that there may be a problem.

Unfortunately, a single normal cardiac ultrasound does not eliminate the possibility of heart disease to develop in the future. For high-risk breeds, like Ragdolls and Maine Coons, and cats with heart murmurs that may vary in intensity over time, your veterinarian may recommend periodic repeat cardiac ultrasounds.

Cats are very secretive and easily hide their illnesses from their owners. Apollo’s death reminds us all about the fragility of life, to appreciate good health, and enjoy the time we have together. Although we cannot cure heart disease in cats today, it can be medically managed to extend your pet’s quality of life. Please don’t forget to schedule your pet’s annual physical examination appointment with your veterinarian so your cat can live its’ best life.

Dr. Donna Solomon is a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of Chicago and invites you to email her your questions or future topic ideas to [email protected]

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Republican Part-Time Nation: Going Involuntary

One of the lines the Republicans often used to attack Obamacare was complaining that it would lead to a massive switch to part-time work. The argument was that employers would cut all their workers to less than 30 hours a week. This would exempt them from the employer mandates in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The line “part-time nation” was a regular refrain on Fox News and other conservative news outlets.

It didn’t turn out that way. The share of workers who are employed part-time is virtually the same today as it was when the ACA was fully implemented at the start of 2014. It turns out that covered employers, those with more than 50 workers, have more important issues to consider in scheduling their workforce than avoiding the ACA requirements. Of course, since more than 90 percent of these employers already provided health care for their workers, it is not surprising that they didn’t change their behavior.

However the aggregate numbers on part-time work conceals an important shift that has largely gone unnoticed. While total part-time employment has changed little over the three years the ACA has been in effect, there has been a huge shift from involuntary part-time work to voluntary part-time work.

The number of people who report that they are working part-time involuntarily — they could not find full-time jobs — has fallen by 2.2 million since December of 2013, the last month before the ACA took full effect. By contrast, the number of people who report that they are working part-time because they have chosen to work part-time has risen by more than 2.4 million. Both parts of this picture are good news and almost certainly are attributable to the ACA.

The reason the ACA increased voluntary part-time employment is that the exchanges allowed people to get insurance without having to rely on an employer. Typically employers require people to work full-time in order to get health care insurance.

As a result, many people who would rather work part-time jobs, such as parents of young children and older workers nearing Medicare age, were forced to work full-time jobs to get health care insurance. This was especially likely if they or someone in their family had a serious medical condition that would make insurance very expensive or unobtainable.

In an analysis done the first year after the exchanges were in operation, Cherrie Bucknor and I found that voluntary part-time employment was up by more than 8.0 percent among young mothers. A separate analysis found that voluntary part-time employment was up by almost 5.0 percent in 2014 for the workers between the ages of 55-64 who are still too young to qualify for Medicare.

This is one of the major unsung successes of Obamacare. Millions of people who wanted to work part-time jobs so they could spend more time with young children now have the option to do so. Similarly, many older workers, some who are in bad health, now have the ability to cut back their hours and still get affordable health care insurance.

The flip side of the movement to voluntary part-time employment was also good news. The decision by millions of people to voluntarily leave full-time jobs to take part-time work opened up these jobs for people seeking full-time employment. Since the ACA, the rise in voluntary part-time employment closely mirrors the decline in involuntary part-time employment. People who needed full-time jobs were now much more likely to get them.

We can expect this story to go in reverse with the Republicans’ repeal of Obamacare. Young parents and older people in bad health who would prefer to work part-time will again be forced to get full-time jobs so that they can get insurance through their employer. When these workers take full-time jobs, it will displace workers who want and need full-time employment. There may be little net change in part-time employment under the Republican plan, but fewer of the people who will be working part-time will be people who actually want part-time employment.

Extending health care insurance to 20 million people was a really big deal and an important driver for the ACA. Arguably an even bigger deal was providing security to people who already had insurance.

The surge in voluntary part-time employment was evidence of this security, as was a 6.0 percent jump in the number of people who are self-employed. But providing security to the nation’s workers is obviously not the Trump-Ryan agenda.

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One of the lines the Republicans often used to attack Obamacare was complaining that it would lead to a massive switch to part-time work. The argument was that employers would cut all their workers to less than 30 hours a week. This would exempt them from the employer mandates in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The line “part-time nation” was a regular refrain on Fox News and other conservative news outlets.

It didn’t turn out that way. The share of workers who are employed part-time is virtually the same today as it was when the ACA was fully implemented at the start of 2014. It turns out that covered employers, those with more than 50 workers, have more important issues to consider in scheduling their workforce than avoiding the ACA requirements. Of course, since more than 90 percent of these employers already provided health care for their workers, it is not surprising that they didn’t change their behavior.

However the aggregate numbers on part-time work conceals an important shift that has largely gone unnoticed. While total part-time employment has changed little over the three years the ACA has been in effect, there has been a huge shift from involuntary part-time work to voluntary part-time work.

The number of people who report that they are working part-time involuntarily — they could not find full-time jobs — has fallen by 2.2 million since December of 2013, the last month before the ACA took full effect. By contrast, the number of people who report that they are working part-time because they have chosen to work part-time has risen by more than 2.4 million. Both parts of this picture are good news and almost certainly are attributable to the ACA.

The reason the ACA increased voluntary part-time employment is that the exchanges allowed people to get insurance without having to rely on an employer. Typically employers require people to work full-time in order to get health care insurance.

As a result, many people who would rather work part-time jobs, such as parents of young children and older workers nearing Medicare age, were forced to work full-time jobs to get health care insurance. This was especially likely if they or someone in their family had a serious medical condition that would make insurance very expensive or unobtainable.

In an analysis done the first year after the exchanges were in operation, Cherrie Bucknor and I found that voluntary part-time employment was up by more than 8.0 percent among young mothers. A separate analysis found that voluntary part-time employment was up by almost 5.0 percent in 2014 for the workers between the ages of 55-64 who are still too young to qualify for Medicare.

This is one of the major unsung successes of Obamacare. Millions of people who wanted to work part-time jobs so they could spend more time with young children now have the option to do so. Similarly, many older workers, some who are in bad health, now have the ability to cut back their hours and still get affordable health care insurance.

The flip side of the movement to voluntary part-time employment was also good news. The decision by millions of people to voluntarily leave full-time jobs to take part-time work opened up these jobs for people seeking full-time employment. Since the ACA, the rise in voluntary part-time employment closely mirrors the decline in involuntary part-time employment. People who needed full-time jobs were now much more likely to get them.

We can expect this story to go in reverse with the Republicans’ repeal of Obamacare. Young parents and older people in bad health who would prefer to work part-time will again be forced to get full-time jobs so that they can get insurance through their employer. When these workers take full-time jobs, it will displace workers who want and need full-time employment. There may be little net change in part-time employment under the Republican plan, but fewer of the people who will be working part-time will be people who actually want part-time employment.

Extending health care insurance to 20 million people was a really big deal and an important driver for the ACA. Arguably an even bigger deal was providing security to people who already had insurance.

The surge in voluntary part-time employment was evidence of this security, as was a 6.0 percent jump in the number of people who are self-employed. But providing security to the nation’s workers is obviously not the Trump-Ryan agenda.

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