According to recent research from the University of Michigan, people who take statins have a lower risk of developing open-angle glaucoma. Statins are commonly prescribed to help lower cholesterol but have also been found to have protective effects in diseases affecting the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis. The study, which examined data on 524,109 patients, found that the longer a person used statins, the lower their risk of developing glaucoma became. In fact, after a year of using statins, the risk dropped by 4.0 percent. Two years of statin use was associated with an 8.0 percent decrease. More here.
Danish researchers have found four signs of aging that may signal poor heart health and a higher risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. The research followed 11,000 men and women over the age of 40 for 35 years and discovered that those who had a receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of their head, earlobe crease, or fatty deposits around their eyelid were 57 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Fatty deposits around the eyelid were the strongest predictor of heart trouble. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, MD, of the University of Copenhagen, said looking old for your age is a marker of poor health. Individuals in their 70s were at highest risk. Participants over the age of 70 who exhibited three of the four signs of aging had a 40 percent increased risk of heart disease over the next 10 years. More here.
Ginger has long been known for its health benefits, which include everything from helping with digestion to fighting the growth and spread of both colorectal and ovarian cancer. But ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties which can benefit people suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A recent study from the University of Miami found individuals who were given a highly concentrated ginger extract experienced a 40 percent reduction in pain and stiffness in their knee joints. Adding grated ginger to salads and stir fry is one way to increase your consumption, though there are also supplements and powders available. More here and here.
Conventional wisdom often links aging to sleep problems. And, according to recent research, sleeplessness can raise the risk of everything from hypertension to diabetes. But though that may seem like a reason for older adults to be concerned, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh’s Sleep and Chronobiology Center and University Center for Social and Urban Research found that seniors aren’t having as much trouble sleeping as as assumed and sleep trouble may have more to do with poor health than age. The study surveyed 1,200 retired seniors. Results showed that 75 percent of respondents reported sleeping more than 6.75 hours a night and just 25 percent reported sleeping less than that. Timothy H. Monk, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, said the stereotype of seniors going to bed early and having trouble staying asleep is inaccurate. More here.
A study focused on finding ways to reduce readmission rates among congestive heart failure patients over the age of 65 found that patients who saw a cardiologist had a significantly lower risk of returning to the hospital within 30 days. The study looked at heart failure admissions between 2009 and 2011 and found, among 2,311 patients, 65 percent were treated by a hospitalist and 35 percent were treated by a cardiologist. Among the 23.2 percent of patients that re-entered the hospital within a month of being discharged, 27 percent had been attended to by a hospitalist while just 16 percent were among those treated by a cardiologist. In addition, the analysis noted that readmission rates were lower for patients seen by a cardiologist despite being among the more severe cases. More here.
A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that 75 percent of Americans described their retirement preparations as being based on some sort of a guess compared to 22 percent who said their plan was based on calculations. The numbers offer further evidence that Americans are in need of better education and financial preparation leading up to their retirement. For example, participants estimated their out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement would total $47,000, far below the $260,000 calculated by the Center for Retirement Research. Also, the number of respondents who said they aren’t confident they will have saved enough to live comfortably in retirement rose from 42 percent in 2011 to 53 percent this year. The poll was conducted via telephone and interviewed 1,000 middle-class Americans between the ages of 25 and 75. More here.
According to a paper authored by Albert Mulley of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, doctors often recommend treatments for their patients without an understanding of their preferences and priorities. For example, a recent study found that doctors believed 71 percent of breast cancer patients rated keeping their breast as a top priority, but the number among their patients was only seven percent. Research has also shown that people will choose different treatments as they become better informed about the risks and benefits associated with a particular treatment. According to Mulley, providing a better diagnosis of patients’ preferences is not only the right thing to do but it may also reduce healthcare costs, as better informed patients are often more careful about the number of procedures they undergo. More here.
A survey of 2,307 adults conducted by Harris Interactive found that nearly three-fourths of Americans are concerned that they won’t have enough money to retire and an equal amount expressed concerns about paying for healthcare expenses if, and when, they do retire. Additionally, the poll found 47 percent of Americans say they are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to put money in savings. Those that are saving say they are putting money away for unexpected costs and their eventual retirement. David Krane, senior vice president at Harris Interactive, said there is clear anxiety on the part of the American public regarding their day-to-day finances. More here.
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.
Americans are now spending more money on medication used to treat conditions that were formerly considered part of the normal aging process than they are on drugs to fight chronic diseases. The research, presented at the American Public Health Association’s 140th Meeting, found that anti-aging medications cost an average of $73.30 per individual user last year, 16 percent higher than the amount spent on both high blood pressure and heart disease medication. And the cost of anti-aging drugs has increased along with their popularity. Since 2006, the price of aging medications, such as those used to treat sexual dysfunction and mental alertness, has risen 46 percent. More here.