Senior Health Updates
What’s new in healthy aging and senior care research?
Could Political Turmoil Harm Your Heart?
November is the traditional election season. We know that intense anger and fear can be bad for our cardiac health—and there aren’t many situations that bring out those strong emotions more these days more than politics! A University of North Carolina School of Medicine professor recently examined data collected during the 2016 presidential election from the implanted cardiac devices from 2,500 patients to see if the effect showed up—and it did! “American politics can be stressful and confrontational, which can lead to anger,” said Prof. Lindsey Rosman, Ph.D. “The combination of intense stress and negative emotions can trigger potentially fatal cardiovascular events in people who are susceptible to these health issues.”
Rosman’s study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, determined that during the election, patients experienced a 77% increase in cardiac arrhythmia. “This is important because it can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, and other heart-related complications,” warned Rosman. She plans to examine the data for the 2020 election when it is available. We can probably guess what she and her team will find! Remember: Stress, no matter what the cause, is bad for our overall health. Read more about the study here.
A New Way to Think About a Common Type of Incontinence
November is Bladder Health Month. Incontinence is the most common bladder health problem, affecting millions of people in the U.S., most of them older women. “Bladder control starts in your head,” explains Prof. Janis M. Miller of the University of Michigan School Medical School. “For many women, a simple change in thinking can dramatically improve bladder control by retraining the bladder to respond differently to common urge triggers.”
One impediment to seeking help for incontinence is embarrassment—most women simply don’t want to talk about it. But Miller has created a more relaxed atmosphere around this uncomfortable topic with a fun online tutorial. With an adorable but pesky doggie standing in for the bladder, the videos explain that we can retrain our brains to send cues to the bladder, telling it to “calm down—it’s not time to go.” The technique includes simple physical and mental tricks that can be effective in many cases. Check out the “My Confident Bladder” program, and read more about Miller’s research here.
More Than Half of COVID Patients Experience Long-Term Effects
Many people assume COVID-19 patients who recover go on with their lives unscathed. But a research team from Penn State University examined data from more than 236 million people who were diagnosed with the disease, and found that more than half of the patients who survived have experienced some degree of post-COVID symptoms called “long COVID.”
While the initial infection typically causes symptoms such as tiredness, difficulty breathing, chest pain, sore joints and loss of taste or smell, the long-term effects include:
- weight loss, fatigue, fever and pain
- a decrease in mobility
- difficulty concentrating
- anxiety disorders
- lung damage
- chest pain and heart palpitations
- skin problems and hair loss
- digestive problems
“These findings confirm what many health care workers and COVID-19 survivors have been claiming, namely, that adverse health effects from COVID-19 can linger,” said the study authors. “Vaccination is our best ally to prevent getting sick from COVID-19 and to reduce the chance of long-COVID even in the presence of a breakthrough infection.”
Read more about the study here.