Category Archives: Health

“Rich People Don’t Just Live Longer. They Also Get More Healthy Years.” – The New York Times

Wealthy men and women generally have eight to nine more years of “disability-free” life after age 50 than poor people do, according to a new study of English and American adults.

rich longevityCredit … Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images”

by Heather Murphy

“Yes, indeed, it’s good to be rich in old age. According to a new study, wealthy men and women don’t only live longer, they also get eight to nine more healthy years after 50 than the poorest individuals in the United States and in England.

“‘It was surprising to find that the inequalities are exactly the same,’ said Paola Zaninotto, a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London and a lead author of the study.

“The findings, published on Wednesday in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, emerged from two primary questions: What role do socioeconomic factors play in how long people live healthy lives? Do older adults in England stay disability-free longer than those in the United States?”

Find out more, read this article at The New York Times in its entirety.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps | building a culture of health, county by county.

 

county health

How Healthy is Your Community?

The annual Rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. They provide a starting point for change in communities.

Here’s a comparison of the counties in this Link Service Area – Berks- Lancaster – Lebanon.

 

“Prescription drug overload: Critics fighting to curb an epidemic of medication side effects” – The Boston Globe

medications

by Robert Weisman 

Are you taking too many meds?

“If you’re an older American, chances are your medicine cabinet is crammed with bottles of pills to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and treat everything from acid reflux to underactive thyroid.

“Forty-two percent of adults over 65 take five or more prescription drugs, and nearly 20 percent take 10 or more, according to the Lown Institute, a health care think tank in Brookline. The institute warns of a growing epidemic of overmedication that’s sent millions of seniors to hospitals and emergency rooms in the past decade with often serious side effects.

“Lown, which published a report on ‘medication overload” last year, will release a national action plan later this month alerting patients, caregivers, doctors, and pharmacists — as well as policy makers — to the perils of overprescribing. The plan was developed by a group of patient advocates, geriatricians, nurses, and health insurers concerned about the unintended consequences of the ‘pills for all ills’ mind-set.”

Continue reading this article at The Boston Globe, click here.

 

“Signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s: When not to worry, and when to see a doctor” – The New York Times

alz.jpg“Forgetting where you parked is not reason for concern. ‘The problem is when you start forgetting that you drove your car to work that day.’”

by Elizabeth Gehrman

It’s one of our biggest fears — being gripped by a disease that slowly steals the very essence of who we are. And early-onset Alzheimer’s, defined as striking before age 65, seems even more cruel, coming as it does at what is often the height of career success, perhaps as grown children are embarking on their own exciting paths. Stories like Tom Keane’s remembrance of his late wife Laurie Farrell, who was diagnosed with the disease at just 56, resonate on a visceral level.

“It’s important to remember, however, that Alzheimer’s usually affects much older people. ‘At 56, Alzheimer’s is extremely uncommon,’ says Harvard neurology professor Reisa Sperling, director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. While about 1 in 9 Americans will get Alzheimer’s disease, age is the greatest risk factor: 81 percent of patients are 75 or older, while only 3 percent — around 200,000 people in the US — are under 65. Still, it’s good to know what to watch out for, especially since, as Sperling says, Alzheimer’s ‘may go unrecognized in younger people or be misdiagnosed.’”

Continue reading this article at The New York Times, click here.

“Tackling Inflammation to Fight Age-Related Ailments” – The New York Times

Body-wide inflammation is tied to most chronic diseases, limiting people’s health and longevity.

inflammationGracia Lam

by Jane E. Brody

“The quest for a fountain of youth is many centuries old and marred by many false starts and unfulfilled promises. But modern medical science is now gradually closing in on what might realistically enable people to live longer, healthier lives — if they are willing to sacrifice some popular hedonistic pleasures.

“Specialists in the biology of aging have identified a rarely recognized yet universal condition that is a major contributor to a wide range of common health-robbing ailments, from heart disease, diabetes and cancer to arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. That condition is chronic inflammation, a kind of low-grade irritant that can undermine the well-being of virtually every bodily system.

“Chronic inflammation occurs to varying degrees with advancing age in all mammals independent of any existing infection.”

Click here to continue reading this article at The New York Times.

OPINION| “We’re Getting Old, but We’re Not Doing Anything About It” – The New York Times

“Like climate change, the aging of America demands a serious rethinking of the way we live.”

getting older“Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times”

by Sysan Jacoby

“One of the paradoxes of this presidential campaign is that while many of the candidates are in their eighth decade of life, fundamental issues associated with the aging of American society are still receiving relatively little attention from the public, the press and politicians themselves. In 2031, the oldest baby boomers will turn 85, entering the land of the ‘old old’ and facing exponentially higher risk for dementia, serious physical disabilities and long-term dependency.

“Like climate change, the aging of America demands serious reconsideration of the way we live. Confronting the issue and its many implications, from Medicare’s failure to cover long-term care to the ethics of physician-assisted dying, requires what seems to be the most difficult task for human beings — thinking about the future.

“In November, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the birthrate among women of childbearing age had dropped to a record low, continuing a sharp decline in births that began around the financial crisis of 2008. At the same time, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported an increased death rate in the 25- to 64-year-old age group, with the main causes thought to be opioid overdoses, alcoholism and suicide.”

Continue reading this New York Times opinion piece, click here.

“Frail Older Patients Struggle After Even Minor Operations” – The New York Times

These patients are not aware of the true risks, and surgeons aren’t telling them, new research suggests.

older surgeryJames Steinberg

by Paula Span

“The patient, a man in his 70s, had abdominal pain serious enough to send him to a VA Pittsburgh Healthcare hospital. Doctors there found the culprit: a gallstone had inflamed his pancreas.

“Dr. Daniel Hall, a surgeon who met with the patient, explained that pancreatitis can be fairly mild, as in this case, or severe enough to cause death. Recovery usually requires five to seven days, some of them in a hospital, during which the stone passes or a doctor uses a flexible scope to remove the blockage.

“But ‘because it can be life-threatening, after patients recover, we usually take out the gall bladder to prevent its happening again,’ Dr. Hall said.”

Read this article in its entirety at The New York Times.

 

What’s new this flu season?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:

A few things are new this season:

  • Flu vaccines are updated to better match viruses expected to be circulating in the United States.
    • The A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine component was updated from an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus to an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus.
    • The A(H3N2) vaccine component was updated from an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus to an A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus.
    • Both B/Victoria and B/Yamagata virus components from the 2018-2019 flu vaccine remain the same for the 2019-2020 flu vaccine.
  • All regular-dose flu shots will be quadrivalent. (No trivalent regular-dose flu shots will be available this season.) Read more here.

flu season

This Website, FluNearYou.org, tracks flu cases around the country. “Early detection and early response are key to preventing the spread of any disease. We believe that letting individuals report symptoms in real-time can complement traditional tracking while providing useful information directly to the public.”

“While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.” – CDC

Philadelphia’s aging population needs help fighting loneliness | Opinion – The Inquirer

agina lonlinessMICHAEL PRONZATO

by Jane Eleey, for The Inquirer

Loneliness may have the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous to health than obesity. Recent nationwide studies highlight the close relationship between social isolation and loneliness and serious health problems — memory loss, depression, self-neglect, changes in blood pressure, medication errors, decline in functional status, poor management of everyday living tasks — as well as greater mortality.

“Social ties provide support during illness, encourage people to maintain better health habits, and have positive effects on the immune system. Isolation from others contributes heavily to illness burden and premature death in at-risk populations.”

Read this article at The Inquirer, click here.

New report finds lung cancer survival has gotten better in the past 10 years

The American Lung Association’s first “State of Lung Cancer“report shows that survival in the U.S. has improved by 26% over the past decade. Here’s more:

  • Overall trends: More than 228,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is now around 22%.
  • State-level trends: Utah has the lowest rates of the disease, while Kentucky has the highest. Five-year survival rates range from 26% in Connecticut to 17% in Alabama.
  • Diagnosis and treatment: Early stage diagnosis was highest in Wyoming — at 23% — but around 17% in Alaska. Surgery, which makes lung cancer more curable, was the first course of treatment for 31% of Massachusetts patients, and for 14% of those in New Mexico.

“Every three and a half minutes someone in the United States will die from lung cancer, accounting for about one in four cancer deaths. Yet, more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer. While the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among both women and men, over the past 10 years the survival rate has dramatically increased. The “State of Lung Cancer” report examines this promising trend, including what is driving the change and what still needs to be done to save more lives.

The five-year survival rate—the rate of people who are still alive five years after being diagnosed—is now 21.7 percent, as reported in the 2019 “State of Lung Cancer” report, up from 17.2 percent a decade ago. This is a dramatic 26 percent improvement over the past 10 years. This year’s report supports both the lifesaving potential of lung cancer screening, which finds the disease at an early stage when it’s more curable, and the importance of advancements in lung cancer research which holds the promise for better treatment options.

A strategic imperative of the American Lung Association is to defeat lung cancer, and to do so, we need an approach that engages a variety of tactics and stakeholders to address the disease, its risk factors, public policy efforts and public health protections, awareness of lung cancer screening and more.

The “State of Lung Cancer” report provides a state-specific understanding of the burden and opportunities to address lung cancer.

The report also serves as both a guidepost and rallying call, providing policymakers, researchers, healthcare practitioners, as well as patients, caregivers and others committed to ending lung cancer by identifying where their state can best focus its resources to decrease the toll of lung cancer.

Click here to read more.