Popular Painkillers May Raise Risks After Heart Attack

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.

Americans Exercising More Than Ever Before

So far this year, more Americans have reported exercising three or more days per week than in any of the past four years. In fact, 2012 may set a record for exercise in the United States. According to Gallup’s Well Being Index, the number of Americans who said they exercised for at least 30 minutes three or more days in the past week has risen in every month but April. August’s results found 54.7 percent of respondents engaged in frequent physical activity. Gallup says the fact that 2012 has been unusually warm may have played a role in the increasing amount of exercise Americans reported. And, as autumn and winter weather affects the ability to be active outdoors in much of the country, the numbers may recede. More here.

Baby Boomers Face Financial Hardships Following Recession

According to a new AARP report, 80 percent of baby boomers who were unemployed in 2010 were still out of work late last year. The report, which surveyed boomers on their financial well being following the recent recession, discovered that Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 continued to struggle three years after the official end of the recession. Because older workers have less time to recover from a job loss, the recession was particularly difficult for salaried employees in their 50s and 60s. Even among those who were able to find work, less than half said they were back on track financially because of lost savings or having to take a job for less money. The survey’s findings highlight the economic struggle felt by millions of baby boomers whose retirement plans were changed or altered by the recent recession. More here and here.

Research Finds No Evidence Ginkgo Biloba Improves Memory

Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and, more recently, has been sold as a dietary supplement aimed at helping prevent memory loss and improving focus and mental sharpness. But, according to new research from the University of Hertfordshire, taking gingko biloba supplements provided no such boost to memory regardless of the age and health of the individual. Keith Laws, professor of psychology, said ginkgo biloba promises to reduce the mental decline associated with aging but the results of the study show it has no impact at all. Ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular plant-based products available without a prescription in North America, though a number of recent studies have found no evidence to support its effectiveness. More here.

Studies Link Heavy Drinking To Stroke, Memory Problems

A study of 540 people who suffered a stroke found that heavy drinkers were more likely to have theirs earlier in life than participants who weren’t heavy drinkers. According to the research, published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, people who drank three or more drinks per day experienced a stroke at an average of 60, which is 14 years earlier than their non-heavy drinking counterparts. The study is one of two recently released that highlights the negative effects of alcohol on the brain. Another study, conducted at the Northern California Institute for Research and Education in San Francisco, found that an increase in drinking later in life was linked to memory problems and trouble remembering clearly. The research followed 1,300 women and discovered nondrinkers who began drinking after the age of 65 had a 200 percent heightened risk of diminished mental abilities. More here and here.

How Personality Helps Shape Health Habits

An Australian study says a person’s personality has a role in determining their lifestyle. People who believed their actions determined their fate were more likely to eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly, and avoid binge drinking and smoking. On the other hand, those who put their faith in luck were more prone to unhealthy lifestyles. The research examined data on the diet, exercise, and personality type of more than 7,000 people. Deborah Cobb-Clark, director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said their study shows a direct link between personality type and a healthy lifestyle. More here.

Data Reveals Which State Has Longest Life Expectancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention release their life expectancy tables every 10 years. The data reveals which state’s residents live the longest and whether or not the average has improved or decreased over the past decade. According to the CDC’s most recent results, all 50 states and the District of Columbia saw life expectancy at birth improve from 1989-1991 to 1999-2001. But despite the gains, there is still a nearly seven year difference between the state with the longest living residents and those at the bottom of the list. For example, Hawaii was the state whose residents enjoyed the longest life expectancy. Hawaiians live to an average of 80.2 years old. On the other hand, Mississippi’s life expectancy was just 73.9. The District of Columbia had the worst life expectancy at 73.1 years, though it also experienced the largest improvement since the last report. More here.

Prescription Drugs, Medical Care Rank High Among Financial Struggles

More than half of the respondents in a new survey from Consumer Reports said they had to cut back on other household expenses in order to pay for their prescription drugs. In fact, participants reported cutting back on everything from groceries to paying their outstanding bills in order to afford the price of their medication. The survey’s results highlight the fact that healthcare expenses continue to be among Americans’ most pressing financial concerns. Both insured and uninsured respondents reported skipping doses and not filling needed prescriptions because of cost. There were also large numbers of people who said they put off doctor’s visits and declined medical tests and procedures because they could not afford them. John Santa, M.D., director of Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said it’s important that doctors assist patients who are navigating stressful financial times, especially when part of their stress is affording the healthcare advice their doctor is providing. More here and here.

Women, Retirement Planning, And Life Expectancy

Women, more than men, say they expect to live past the age of 90. In fact, nearly twice the number of women said they expected to live a long life compared to men in a recent retirement survey. But despite having expectations of living longer, many women haven’t planned adequately for the financial requirements associated with increased longevity. For example, more than half of surveyed women said they respond to financial emergencies by dealing with them when they occur rather than planning for possible scenarios. But though women participants said they didn’t plan in advance, more than 70 percent admitted to being very or somewhat concerned about providing for their long-term care needs. The study highlights the need for women to be properly prepared for their financial needs in retirement. More here.

Too Many Hours At Work Increases Risk Of Heart Disease

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.