If you have high-blood pressure, you have twice the risk of suffering a stroke compared to someone with normal blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. And a recent study of nearly 500 stroke survivors found 72 percent reported having been diagnosed with high-blood pressure at some point in their lives. Amy Towfighi, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Southern California, conducted the research and found nearly half of people that had a stroke had poorly controlled high blood pressure. Towfighi said high blood pressure is the strongest risk factor for stroke, which made it surprising that nearly half of stroke survivors had poorly controlled hypertension. More here.
The recent recession and slow pace of the economic recovery has made saving money more difficult for those approaching retirement and sustaining a comfortable lifestyle a challenge for the already retired. In fact, only seven percent of Americans reported having saved their ideal retirement nest egg in a recent survey. In order to successfully navigate your retirement, experts recommend doing an honest assessment of your finances and making adjustments where possible. Cutting back on luxury spending and obtaining a part-time job to provide added security are also options to those struggling to make ends meet. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that means networking for a job or reaching out to family and friends when struggling financially. More here.
A new report from the Institute of Medicine calls for more attention to the increasing number of Americans suffering with a chronic illness. Nearly 50 million Americans have a chronic illness and three-quarters of all health-care costs are spent on conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, chronic pain, and dementia. The report calls for more action from federal, state, and local governments in addition to more research into how to care for people with multiple chronic illnesses. More than a quarter of Americans live with more than one chronic illness, such as people suffering from both diabetes and heart disease. The report’s authors wrote that the epidemic of chronic illness is steadily moving toward crisis proportions, yet enhancing the quality of life for people living with these diseases hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. More here.
According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, men over the age of 70 are more susceptible to memory loss and cognitive impairment than women. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic examined 1,450 people in their 70s and 80s every 15 months for three and a half years and found 7.2 percent of men and 5.7 percent of women developed mild cognitive impairment during that time. Previous studies, however, have found men are less likely to develop full-blown dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than women. Rosebud Roberts, lead author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic, said that, though men were more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, women with cognitive problems may progress into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease more quickly. More here.
The first increase in monthly social security and supplemental security income benefits since 2009 takes effect this year. The cost-of-living adjustment automatically raises benefits based on increases in the Consumer Price Index as measured during the third quarter of each year. If prices rise, so do payments. If prices fall, benefits remain the same. In 2009, payments increased 5.8 percent based on spikes in energy prices. The past two years, however, payments remained flat due to low inflation. The 3.6 percent increase for 2012 means nearly 60 million social-security recipients will get an average of an additional $467 this year. More here.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of Americans being screened for cancer continues to fall below recommended national targets. Sallyann Coleman King of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control said screening for colorectal, cervical, and breast cancers can help find the disease at an earlier stage when it can be treated more effectively. Still, the report found that breast cancer screening rates were 72.4 percent, short of the national goal of 81 percent. Screening for cervical cancer was 10 percent below the target and colorectal cancer screening rates were 12 percent short of the goal. The report based its findings on data gathered during the CDC’s 2010 National Health Interview Survey. More here.
Doctors commonly estimate a person’s risk of developing heart disease based on the likelihood of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years. But, according to a new study, estimating short-term risk may give patients a false sense of security. Calculating a person’s lifetime risk of developing heart disease paints a much more accurate picture of their risk. Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, study researcher and an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, says doctors are giving incomplete and misleading risk information if they only focus on the next 10 years of someone’s life. According to the study, a person’s risk of developing heart disease rises significantly if they have just one of the major risk factors, which include high cholesterol or blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. More here.
Research examining medical records for more than 11,000 men and women found women reported higher levels of pain than men did. Men and women were asked to rate their pain on a zero-to-ten scale with 10 being the worst pain imaginable. The results found that women rated their pain up to a full point higher than men with the same condition. The greatest differences in reported pain were found in patients with musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive disorders. Dr. Atul Butte, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Stanford university and senior author of the study, said though a one-point difference may not seem like much it can be an indication of whether or not a pain treatment is working effectively. More here and here.
A report examining patient complications and deaths at nearly 5,000 U.S. hospitals named Baltimore the city with the nation’s best hospitals. The report, produced by HealthGrades, found top-rated hospitals in 38 states and named Phoenix, Cedar Rapids, Richmond, Cincinnati, West Palm Beach, Chattanooga, St. Louis, Hartford, and Grand Rapids among the top 10 cities for hospital care. Medicare patients at top-rated hospitals had a 30 percent lower risk of death and their risk of in-hospital complications was 2.0 percent lower than patients at all other hospitals. The report said the lives of 166,000 Medicare patients could have been saved if all hospitals operated at the same level as the top-rated hospitals. More here and here.
According to research from Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institute, people who eat foods rich in magnesium have a reduced risk of suffering a stroke compared to people with lower levels of the mineral. Magnesium, which can be found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and beans, may lower the risk of stroke because it lowers blood pressure. The research looked at the results of seven previously published studies of more than 240,000 people and found that for each additional 100 milligrams of magnesium per day, the risk of stroke dropped 8.0 percent. The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium is 420 milligrams a day for men over the age of 31 and 320 milligrams daily for women. More here.