“…results show that the safest level of drinking is none,” reported a team of researchers in a recent study, funded by the Gates Foundation and published in the Lancet Medical Journal. The meta-analysis of more than 1,000 studies found alcohol to be responsible for nearly 3 million deaths per year globally. These deaths include—among other things—heart disease, cancer, and accidents. While studies that demonstrate the beneficial effects of alcohol receive much popular media attention, Robyn Burton of King’s College London believes, “the conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue.” According to the study, in 2016, alcohol consumption was the single largest risk factor for early death in people ages 15 to 49. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth. And other Wayne’s World quotes. [Warning: semi-mature, stupid, adolescent humor]
That’s the news 4.2 million Americans woke up to on Monday when the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new guidelines on what is considered hypertension. Now, if your sphygmomanometer reads 130/80, then your blood pressure is considered high. But the new guidelines aren’t changing much in terms of treatment—the physicians are advising that only about 80,000 more patients will benefit from hypertensive drugs. Those newly within the high blood pressure range are pretty much just being put on notice to change their lifestyle habits. However, nearly everyone can benefit from lowering their blood pressure—here’s 10 ways to do that without medication.
Stents are great for things like increasing blood flow and reducing the risk of heart attacks, but a new study says they’re not great for what they’re mainly used for—treating chest pain. Researchers split a cohort of 230 UK patients experiencing chest pain into two groups: one received coronary stents, one got a placebo procedure. Six weeks later, they found no difference in experienced chest pains between the two groups. Again, chest pain isn’t the only medical use for stents, and this study only had patients with a single blocked artery. But since 500,000 patients worldwide receive stents for chest pain relief every year, cardiologists might soon be spending less time optimizing patient blood flows, and more time playing old school oil flow games.
Possibly some bad news for members of the Vape Nation; a recent study has identified that e-cigarettes containing nicotine can temporarily cause increased arterial stiffness, as well as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. NB: “containing nicotine” is pretty important there, as that’s likely what’s causing those adverse effects. So competitive vapers may not have to worry about this particular research. While the study was pretty small—15 young adults—it still provides some insight into using vapes as a way to quit smoking. The insight is groundbreaking: the healthiest way to not be affected by smoking chemicals is to ingest them at all. Wait, haven’t we heard this argument before…
Is it possible to be simultaneously hefty and healthy? In a study presented at the European Congress of Obesity, researchers who scrutinized 20 years of electronic health records for 3.5 million people discovered that people who were overweight, but did not have any of the metabolic problems usually linked to excess weight, were more prone to develop metabolic problems. Compared to non-overweight individuals, “healthy obese people had a 50% higher risk of heart disease, a 7% higher risk of stroke, twice the risk of heart failure and a greater risk for peripheral artery disease.” The takeaway: physicians should encourage weight loss among obese patients irrespective of metabolic abnormalities.
America, best in the world at baseball, hot dogs, apple pie… and healthcare spending. Americans have spent a whopping $30.1 trillion in fact, from 1996 to 2013. Very little has been known until now about what issues have been the driving forces of such massive sums, but a recent study reported in JAMA finds that just 20 medical conditions account for over half of all spending. At the top of that list: diabetes, heart disease, and back pain. Here’s InsightCity’s recommendation: after spending $277.1 billion in 2013 alone, Americans may want to focus a bit more on the baseball and a bit less on the hot dogs and apple pie.
The experience of taking a handful of pills for preventive measures might be entering a new era. Doctors are becoming very interested in what is being called the “polypill.” According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the pill could include a combination of things such as “a baby aspirin, a statin to rebalance cholesterol, a drug to control blood pressure and one to lower blood sugar,” and would be encouraged for daily use in people over 50, similar to the use of a multivitamin. Critics suggest people would rely on the pill, therefore creating less healthy lifestyles. Be on the lookout for whether doctors will move toward this simpler type of preventive approach.