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Coronavirus

Coronavirus' Top Targets: Men, Seniors, Smokers

Early data suggested that men were more vulnerable, as they accounted for just more than half the cases, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected men died twice as often as infected women.
web md - 3 hours ago
Co-parent adoption: A critical protection for LGBTQ+ families - harvard

Co-parent adoption: A critical protection for LGBTQ+ families

Establishing a legal relationship between parents and their children allows both parents to make care decisions. For LGBTQ+ families, this can be especially important. In some states, co-parent adoption, which offers broader protection than a state birth certificate, is available. The post Co-parent adoption: A critical protection for LGBTQ+ families appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 day ago
With New Hotspots, Coronavirus on Verge of Pandemic  - web md

With New Hotspots, Coronavirus on Verge of Pandemic

Pandemics are more severe than outbreaks or epidemics. It’s a term that signals that a disease is a threat to the entire world.  While public health officials seemed to downplay the significance of attaching the word to COVID-19, there’s no doubt about its importance in public messaging.
web md - 1 day ago
Hands or feet asleep? What to do - harvard

Hands or feet asleep? What to do

It’s happened to all of us: a hand or leg temporarily “falls asleep,” usually from being in one position for too long. Why does it happen? Are there times when you should be concerned about it? The post Hands or feet asleep? What to do appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 5 days ago
C. difficile (C. diff): An urgent threat - harvard

C. difficile (C. diff): An urgent threat

The bacteria known as C. diff has become a leading cause of infection among hospitalized patients. The infection is more common following antibiotic therapy, and it is challenging to treat because of a high relapse rate. The post C. difficile (C. diff): An urgent threat appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 6 days ago
Can light therapies help with bipolar disorder? - harvard

Can light therapies help with bipolar disorder?

One approach to treating bipolar disorders is manipulation of the body’s circadian rhythms. A recent review of research found that such therapies may help, often in combination with medications and psychotherapy. The post Can light therapies help with bipolar disorder? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Good news for those with type 2 diabetes: Healthy lifestyle matters - harvard

Good news for those with type 2 diabetes: Healthy lifestyle matters

Lifestyle changes have been shown to reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event, but can they also help those with diabetes? A recent study found a positive association between healthy lifestyle choices and reduced cardiovascular risk for those with type 2 diabetes. The post Good news for those with type 2 diabetes: Healthy lifestyle matters appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Rethinking Milk: Science Takes On the Dairy Dilemma  - web md

Rethinking Milk: Science Takes On the Dairy Dilemma

Dairy products are rich in calcium and protein, and they have long been promoted as important for helping kids grow and helping kids and adults build and maintain strong bones. Now a new study questions whether diary deserves its health halo.
web md - 1 week ago
What’s the best way to manage agitation related to dementia? - harvard

What’s the best way to manage agitation related to dementia?

When people with dementia start exhibiting agitated behaviors, doctors often prescribe medications, but these have risks of serious side effects. A new study found that nondrug interventions were more effective than medications in reducing agitation. The post What’s the best way to manage agitation related to dementia? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Good for your teeth, bad for your bones? - harvard

Good for your teeth, bad for your bones?

Could an ingredient in toothpaste be harmful to your bones? Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, has been banned from soaps and hand sanitizers by the FDA, and researchers have found that women with the highest levels of triclosan in their urine had low bone density measurements. The post Good for your teeth, bad for your bones? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
When is a heavy period too heavy? - harvard

When is a heavy period too heavy?

Girls and their parents often wonder when bleeding with a period is too heavy. It's normal for periods to be irregular and occasionally heavy in the first few years after menstruation starts, but some signs of heavy bleeding merit a call to your child’s doctor. The post When is a heavy period too heavy? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Mind-body therapies can reduce pain and opioid use - harvard

Mind-body therapies can reduce pain and opioid use

Researchers looking for ways to help people manage pain without drugs found that the practice of mind-body therapies was associated with reduced pain intensity, and may also assist some people in reducing their use of opioid medications. The post Mind-body therapies can reduce pain and opioid use appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Skin care shouldn’t be colorblind - harvard

Skin care shouldn’t be colorblind

Because skin color affects the presentation of skin conditions, dermatologists must consider skin color in making diagnoses. Because of this, people of color may want to seek out a dermatologist who understands their specific needs and concerns. The post Skin care shouldn’t be colorblind appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
What’s in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US - harvard

What’s in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US

Between 1959 and 2014, average life expectancy in the United States rose astoundingly by nearly a decade. Then it began declining. A recent report examining this situation raises tough questions about that unexpected change. The post What’s in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
More Patients Turning to

More Patients Turning to 'Direct Primary Care'

DPC Frontier, which tracks the number of direct primary care practices nationally, estimates there are 1,219 practices in 48 states and Washington, D.C. They range in size from solo practitioners to corporate, multisite direct primary care organizations with thousands of doctors.
web md - 2 weeks ago
With a little planning, vegan diets can be a healthful choice - harvard

With a little planning, vegan diets can be a healthful choice

There is ample evidence to support the healthfulness of a vegan diet. However, those who choose vegan eating may not get enough of some nutrients unless they pay careful attention to their food intake, or choose to take supplements. The post With a little planning, vegan diets can be a healthful choice appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Coronavirus: What parents should know and do - harvard

Coronavirus: What parents should know and do

It’s natural for parents to be worried about whether their children could be at risk from the novel coronavirus. While there is much that is still not known, common sense and simple public health precautions will help protect everyone. The post Coronavirus: What parents should know and do appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 3 weeks ago
Infertility the second time around - harvard

Infertility the second time around

If you have a child and wish for more but are struggling with fertility issues, you may have many feelings and concerns. Here are some steps and strategies you may find helpful. The post Infertility the second time around appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 3 weeks ago
Newer skin cancer treatments improve prognosis for those with cutaneous melanoma - harvard

Newer skin cancer treatments improve prognosis for those with cutaneous melanoma

Though only about 1% of skin cancers are melanomas, they are responsible for 90% of skin cancer deaths. Recent advances in treatment options have improved survival rates for melanoma, but it’s still best to take preventive steps to protect your skin. The post Newer skin cancer treatments improve prognosis for those with cutaneous melanoma appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 3 weeks ago
Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus - harvard

Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus

New information about the spread of coronavirus is coming at us seemingly every minute from many sources. But how much of this information is trustworthy? And which sources should you believe? The post Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 3 weeks ago
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harvard
What’s in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US

What’s in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US

harvard - 2 weeks ago

If you were to sum up the overall health of a nation in one single number, what would that be? At the top of the list, you would likely find average life expectancy the total number of years, on average, that a person in a country can expect to live. Wars, famine, and economic crises are expected to lower life expectancy. Breakthroughs in science, strong economies, and behaviors like eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding tobacco typically raise average life expectancy.

An amazing rise, a surprising fall

Between 1959 and 2014, the United States experienced an unprecedented increase in life expectancy, which rose from 69.9 years to 78.9 years. The simple thought of adding almost 10 years, on average, to the lifespan of each individual in the country in that short amount of time is amazing and astounding, a true testament to our rapidly increasing understanding of health, medicine, and the environment.

Unfortunately, thats where the good news ends. Between 2010 and 2014, life expectancy in the US plateaued. And then in 2014, something worse happened: life expectancy began decreasing. The US experienced three years in a row of declining life expectancy. As an article in the Washington Post observes, this is the first time the US has seen such prolonged declines since 1915 to 1918, when Americans experienced both World War I and a flu pandemic. The US is also the only developed country in the world whose average life expectancy stopped increasing after 2010. We now rank 35th in the world. The average American can expect to live 3.5 years less than the average Canadian. So now, in this decade, without large-scale war causalities or a severe pandemic, without economic crisis or famine, why is US life expectancy decreasing?

Diving into details on life expectancy

A recent report in JAMA provides a comprehensive, detailed look at this phenomenon. The authors focused attention on midlife, defined as adults ages 25 to 64. Midlife is the time when adults are typically the most productive, raising families and making up the majority of the workforce. Tragically, mortality rates in this age group are bringing down the national average. Key findings below help explain why.

(First, a quick note about percentages: A 100% increase in deaths from an illness means the death rate doubled since the last time it was measured. A 400% increase means deaths are five times as high as they were previously.)

Certain health problems are driving higher death rates. Since 1999, the US has seen drastic decreases in deaths due to heart disease, cancer, HIV, and motor vehicle injuries. But since 1999, drug overdose deaths in midlife increased almost 400%, while deaths from alcoholic liver disease and suicide increased by about 40% each. Likewise, deaths caused by illnesses related to high blood pressure increased by nearly 80%, while those from obesity-related illness rose 114%.

Gender matters. Overall, men have lower life expectancy than women. Likewise, during midlife men were more likely than women to die from most causes, with some important exceptions. For example, overdose deaths nearly quadrupled overall, but among women the increase was 1.4 times higher than among men. And deaths related to alcoholic liver disease were 3.4 times higher among women than men.

Race and ethnicity matter. Since 1999, nearly all racial and ethnic groups have experienced an initial improvement in life expectancy followed by a decline. Only non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives did not experience a decline. Death rates of non-Hispanic black individuals in midlife have remained substantially higher compared with non-Hispanic white people over the past decades. But for certain conditions the disparities are even greater, including a relative increase of over 170% in fatal drug overdoses between 2010 and 2017.

Where you live matters. One of the most fascinating parts of the report is the state-by-state mortality comparison. The difference in mortality between the highest and lowest life expectancy states is seven years! Furthermore, there has been a shift over the past decades. For example, in 1959, Kansas had the highest life expectancy, but in 2016 it ranked 29th. There were also differences between neighboring states: Alabama and Georgia had a negligible (0.1 year) difference in 1990, but by 2016, Georgias life expectancy was 2.3 years greater. And finally, states who have been hit hardest with the opioid overdose epidemic have also seen decreases in life expectancy, particularly those in New England and the Ohio Valley. In fact, the authors of the report calculated that there were over 33,000 excess deaths from 2010 to 2017. About a third of these deaths occurred in just four Ohio River Valley states: West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.

Life expectancy is much more than just a number

In unpacking this important report, so many unanswered questions rise to the surface. I think of the potential every child has, and the years of peoples lives that are lost unnecessarily and prematurely, especially during midlife years when they could be most productive. There is, fortunately, a glimmer of a silver lining: a new report shows that, in 2018, life expectancy increased in the U.S. by 0.1 yearsso, just over five weeks.

Still, what would our countrys average life expectancy be if we could eliminate stigma around addiction, increase treatment resources, and end overdose-related deaths? What would the number be if every American was guaranteed access to inexpensive medicines for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure? If we recognized that mental illness is a chronic disease and people had access to appropriate behavioral health services? If our society addressed the social determinants of health, focusing on vast disparities between racial and ethnic groups, as well as rural and city inhabitants? I cant tell you the answers. But as a nation, we must address these tough questions if we wish to resume our once remarkable progress extending peoples lives.

The post Whats in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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