Cold winter weather was long thought to be the primary cause of seasonal increases in heart-related deaths. But, according to new research, circulatory deaths, including heart attack, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, rose up to 36 percent during the winter months regardless of climate. The study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012, analyzed four years worth of death certificate data from seven locations across the country. The results found that, despite covering seven very different climate patterns, the trend in cardiac deaths was very similar. The research wasn’t designed to identify a cause for the increases but Bryan Schwartz, M.D., of the University of New Mexico, said people generally don’t live as healthy in winter as they do in the summer. Schwartz, who was lead author of the study, theorized that the spike in heart-related events may be due to the fact that people don’t eat as well or exercise as much during the winter. More here.
A new study, published in the journal Circulation, found a possible link between the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs and increased risks for heart attack survivors. Among 100,000 survivors of first heart attacks, nearly half filled a prescription for a NSAID, such as Celebrex, Voltaren, Motrin, Advil, or Aleve. Among those who used the anti-inflammatory drugs, there was a 59 percent higher risk of death from any cause within one year of having the heart attack and a 30 percent higher risk of having another heart attack. After five years, the risk of death increased to 63 percent. Though researchers can’t say the use of NSAIDs were directly responsible for the elevated risk, the study highlights the need for caution when using anti-inflammatory drugs following a heart attack. More here.
A recent study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, finds that working too many hours can raise the risk of developing coronary heart disease. People who worked long hours were found to have an approximately 40 percent higher risk of heart trouble compared to coworkers who worked fewer hours. The research, which looked at 12 studies totaling 22,000 people, notes that long working hours have been previously linked with a number of conditions and habits which contribute to heart disease, such as elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, unhealthy diet, smoking, and lower physical activity. Longer working hours are also associated with stress and sleep deprivation, which have been shown to increase cardiovascular risk. Coronary heart disease is currently the leading cause of death and is projected to remain so for the next several decades. More here and here.
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, vitamin E may help lower the risk of liver cancer. The research, which analyzed data from 132,837 individuals in China who enrolled in national health studies between 1997 and 2006, found that high consumption of vitamin E, whether from diet or supplements, had a clear relationship to lowered liver-cancer risk. Liver cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the world, the fifth most common cancer in men, and the seventh most common in women. The authors of the study wrote that there was a clear, inverse dose-response relation between vitamin E intake and liver cancer risk. The relationship was consistent among participants with and without liver disease or a family history of liver cancer. More here.
A new study from the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit found people who suffer from insomnia may be at a higher risk of developing hypertension. Insomnia affects 30 to 40 percent of adults at some point each year and nearly 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia, according to data from the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. The study, which sent a questionnaire to 5,314 people and compared sound sleepers to insomniacs, found a higher rate of hypertension among people with sleep troubles. Christopher Drake, associate scientist at Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorder and Research Center, said the cause of hypertension in insomniacs is related to the number of times the individual wakes up during the night and the length of time it takes to fall asleep. More here.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveals the staggering costs of the disease and the projected increases as more Americans develop the incurable disease. Currently, 5.4 million Americans have the disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The direct costs of caring for Alzheimer’s patients will total an estimated $200 billion in 2012, with $140 billion in Medicare and Medicaid costs. And those costs are only expected to increase. By 2050, Alzheimer’s related care costs are projected to reach $1.1 trillion, with a combined 500 percent rise in Medicare and Medicaid spending. More here.
According to a recently released report from the American Psychological Association, 75 percent of Americans cite money as the main cause of their stress. The report, based on the findings of a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the APA, found a decreasing number of participants reporting consistently high levels of stress but also a significant number of Americans who didn’t link their stress levels with risk of disease. Though 90 percent of participants believe stress can lead to major illnesses, 31 percent said it had little or no impact on their own health. Caregivers, the obese, and depressed individuals reported higher levels of stress, according to the survey. Among causes of stress, money was followed by work, relationships, family responsibilities and health. More here.
A report from the American Cancer Society shows cancer deaths decreased 1.8 percent for men and 1.6 percent for women each year between 2004 and 2008. The decline continues a nearly 20-year-long downward trend due primarily to early detection in combination with better treatment and prevention efforts. But, despite the positive trend, experts caution that cancer is still the second-leading cause of death in America following heart disease and there is still much work to be done. The decreasing death rates were lead by a 40 percent drop in lung cancer deaths among men and a 34 percent decline in breast cancer deaths among women. The report estimates that between 1991 and 2008 more than 1,000,000 cancer deaths were prevented. More here and here.
After age 40, adults generally begin to get shorter due to natural changes in muscles, bones, and joints. Women, on average, lose three inches by the age of 80 and men lose two inches. Adults lose height at a rate of a quarter to a third of an inch every decade after 40. Research shows that losing height at a rate any faster than that can signal a higher risk of hip fracture and, in men, a higher likelihood of heart disease. A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006, found that men who lost more than 1.2 inches over 20 years were 46 percent more likely to have suffered from coronary heart disease and 64 percent more likely to have died from any cause. Still, having a moderately vigorous exercise routine, even if it began after the age of 40, has been shown to cut height loss in half. More here and here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 235,000 people over the age of 15 suffer nonfatal bathroom injuries each year and the injury rate increases with age. According to the report, falls were the most common cause of injury and the head or neck was the primary part of the body injured. Among bathroom injuries, most occurred in or around the bathtub, though the percentage of injuries that happened near or on the toilet was highest among persons over the age of 85. Judy A. Stevens, lead author of the report, said injuries getting on and off the toilet are quite high in people 65 and older and having grab bars by the toilet would be helpful. The precipitating event in 37 percent of injuries was bathing, showering or getting out of the tub. Standing up from, sitting down on, or using the toilet was the cause of 14 percent of injuries. More here and here.