People Who Feel Younger at Heart Live Longer

People Who Feel Younger at Heart Live Longer

Go ahead lie about your age. It may be the very thing that helps you live a longer life.
If those fibbers truly believe that they are younger than what it says on their birth certificate, a new study shows they are among a group of people who have a lower death rate.

That’s compared with those who felt their age or who even feel older than their years.

The new research letter is published in JAMA Internal Medicine online.

The study looked at data from 6,489 people with an average age of 65.8 years who reported that they felt a little less than 10 years younger. What’s interesting is most people in the study didn’t feel like their actual age. Most said they felt about three years younger. Only a tiny percent, some 4.8%, felt at least a year older than their actual age.

 When University College London researchers followed up on these people over the next eight years, the scientists found only a little over 14% of those who felt younger than their years had died. That was compared with the more than 24% of the people who reported feeling older or feeling their age who had died. Some 18% of the people who felt like their chronological age died in that same time period.

Why happiness is healthy

The researchers say they want to better understand what made the difference with this group.

“Possibilities include a broader set of health behaviors than we measured (such as maintaining a healthy weight and adherence to medical advice), and greater resilience, sense of mastery and will to live among those who feel younger than their age,” the study concludes. “Self-perceived age has the potential to change, so interventions may be possible. Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging.”

Dr. Sharon Bergquist, a physician and assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine who specializes in healthy aging, isn’t surprised by the results.

“Research is showing us that personality can so be tied to your destiny,” Bergquist said.

Your happiness type matters

New research into the link between personality and aging finds that there are two main traits that seem to help people live a longer life: conscientiousness and optimism.

People who have both traits may have more of a will to do the right thing to live a healthy lifestyle that can keep them healthy long into old age.

“Aging well can certainly become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she said.

Contributor: Jen Christensen, CNN

Should You Take a Low Dose Aspirin Every Day?

Should You Take a Low Dose Aspirin Every Day?

  • American Heart Association officials say some Bayer displays at Walmart stores earlier this year may have given people the false impression that daily aspirin use is beneficial to most people.
  • Health experts are reminding people that daily aspirin use is probably not a good idea.
  • They say the health benefits for most people are outweighed by the risk of internal bleeding.
  • Experts say aspirin can be a preventive measure for people who have had a previous heart attack.
  • The debate was reignited by Bayer displays in Walmart stores that American Heart Association officials said implied daily aspirin use was a healthy routine for most people.
  • If you’re relatively healthy, should you take a “baby” aspirin every day just in case?

If it’s right there in your medicine cabinet, it could seem like an easy, inexpensive way to ward off a heart attack or stroke, right?

It’s such a low dose, how could it possibly hurt?

That’s the kind of reasoning you’ve probably heard for years, maybe even decades. But it turns out that this line of thinking runs counter to what experts are currently recommending.

A study published today in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that people without cardiovascular disease who use low dose aspirin daily have a 17 percent lower incidence of cardiovascular events.

However, the researchers noted daily low dose aspirin use was also associated with a 47 percent higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and a 34 percent higher risk of intracranial bleeding.

Confused? That’s understandable. In fact, the American Heart Association reported in March that an advertising campaign it was linked to may have given consumers the wrong impression.

Kaiser Health News first reported on the controversy.

It involved a display of brightly colored large bins in hundreds of Walmart stores across the country. Inside the bins were boxes of low-dose Bayer aspirin.

The display carried the American Heart Association logo and read: “Approximately every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack.”

The language seemed to imply that taking an 81-milligram aspirin pill could reduce everyone’s heart attack risk.

How did the bins appear?
According to American Heart Association officials, Bayer had signed on as a donor to the nonprofit organization’s “Life Is Why We Give” campaign.

The campaign is designed to inspire consumers to live healthier, longer lives. During February, Bayer was to activate a marketing display at 1,300 Walmart stores around the country.

“We regret that consumers may have been confused by the displays,” Julie Sharpe, vice president of national corporate relations at the American Heart Association, told Healthline. “We apologize for this misstep.”

Bayer does have a warning on the packaging that reads: “Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.”

But Sharpe says the association failed to follow its own standard internal review processes.

“As a result of this human error, the promotional bins lacked the precise language we feel would have helped consumers understand the need for people to speak with their physician before beginning an aspirin regimen or therapy,” she said.

Sharpe adds the promotion was supposed to run through the end of February. The bins were being pulled when the questions arose.

The current recommendation
Last year, the American Heart Association, along with other organizations, signed on to new guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Task Force.

The group evaluated multiple recent studies that showed the benefit of taking daily low-dose aspirin for people whose risk for heart disease was low or moderate was outweighed by the danger of internal bleeding.

The team did recommend the therapy for what’s called secondary prevention.

“Our guidelines clearly indicate aspirin may be appropriate for some people for prevention of another or second heart attack,” Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention for the American Heart Association, told Healthline. “However, the decision to add aspirin as therapy should be done with a doctor’s consultation.”

“Only select patients — those who are 40 to 70 years old with other existing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like obesity, diabetes, blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, or smoking — might be considered to take a daily low-dose aspirin as a first line prevention of [cardiovascular disease],” Sanchez said.

A nurse’s story
“I realize I’m truly blessed.”

That’s how Sylvia Saunders, a now retired registered nurse living in Washington, D.C., describes her brush with death.

In 2011, Saunders was diagnosed with bilateral subdural hematomas, or bleeding on both sides of her brain. Her doctors told her the condition was likely the result of taking low-dose aspirin for more than a decade.

Saunders told Healthline that about 15 years before, a routine physical found she had prolapsed heart valves. She didn’t have any symptoms, but a cardiologist recommended she take low-dose aspirin to prevent any complications down the road.

She says her symptoms developed slowly.

First, there was a pain above her left eye. Then she began stumbling and losing her gait. At the time, she was an operating room nurse.

Saunders happened to read an article in a nursing journal that said in some cases, aspirin could cause bleeding on the brain.

She made an appointment to see a neurosurgeon. A CT scan revealed the blood clots, and she was rushed into surgery.

Saunders is adamant that people need to know that daily aspirin can have serious consequences for some people.

“There needs to be some kind of public service announcement to get the word out,” she said.

Aspirin use still widespread
But getting the message out about who should take daily aspirin isn’t easy.

In a study published last year, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard University in Massachusetts looked at how widespread daily aspirin use might be.

They asked 14,000 men and women over the age of 40 if they’d been prescribed low-dose aspirin daily or if they were taking it on their own.

The findings suggested about 29 million people who don’t have heart disease take aspirin daily for prevention nationwide.

They also found that more than 6 million of them do so without a doctor’s recommendation.

The researchers suggested that primary care doctors should talk to patients about aspirin use, and that more people should ask their doctors about it.

Contributor: Roz Plater-Healthine

Is Melatonin Safe to Take Every Night?

Is Melatonin Safe to Take Every Night?

Americans aren’t sleeping well. Roughly 80% of U.S. adults say they struggle to fall asleep at least one night a week, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. And research has found that sleep problems are also on the rise among adolescents.
While the causes of America’s sleep woes are up for debate, there’s little disagreement about America’s favorite remedy: Melatonin, by far the country’s most-used sleep aid.

What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that plants and animals, including humans, produce naturally. The melatonin sold in over-the-counter pills is synthetic, but chemically it’s the same as the stuff the human body makes. It can, if used properly, help certain problem sleepers get to bed at night.

Melatonin hormone secreted by pineal gland (red) at night, regulates body’s daily biological rhythm depending on luminosity as light regulates its secretion via a path involving the suprachiasmatic nucleus (green), the paraventricular nucleus (yellow) and the preganglionic sympathetic neurons.

Melatonin hormone secreted by pineal gland (red) at night, regulates body’s daily biological rhythm depending on luminosity as light regulates its secretion via a path involving the suprachiasmatic nucleus (green), the paraventricular nucleus (yellow) and the preganglionic sympathetic neurons. BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Research has also shown it can help combat inflammation, promote weight loss, and maybe even help children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

That’s a lot to claim, though there are some studies to back up the various benefits. One 2011 review found evidence that, in children with autism, melatonin supplementation led to improved sleep and better daytime behavior. A small 2017 study from Poland found that obese adults who took a daily 10 mg melatonin supplement for 30 days while eating a reduced-calorie diet lost almost twice as much weight as a placebo group. The underlying cause might be connected to the fact that blood measures of oxidative damage and inflammation were much lower in the people who took melatonin.

“Some of the emerging science is showing that in people with higher levels of inflammation—which could be because they’re obese, or because they’re in the [intensive care unit] for a transplant—melatonin in the range of 6 mg to 10 mg may decrease markers of inflammation,” says Helen Burgess, a professor of psychiatry and co-director of the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. If someone is healthy, it’s not clear that high-dose melatonin has a similar anti-inflammation effect, she adds. But it’s possible.

Burgess is one of the country’s foremost melatonin researchers. She says that the traditional view of melatonin is that it plays a role in regulating the body’s internal day-night clocks, which is why it can help people sleep. “But there’s a theory that melatonin’s original purpose was as an antioxidant, which is what it does in plants,” she says. This alternative theory holds that it was only later in human evolution that melatonin took on a secondary role as a biological clock-setter.

Inflammation, like poor sleep, is implicated in the development or progression of an array of diseases, from heart disease and diabetes to depression and dementia. If melatonin could safely promote both better sleep and lower rates of inflammation, it could be a potent preventative for a lot of those ills. And melatonin appears to be safe—though there isn’t much research on the long-term effects of taking it in heavy doses.

What is a safe melatonin dose?
According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, “melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses,” which is anything between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.

A 0.5 mg dose may be all that’s needed for sleep-cycle regulation, and should be taken three to five hours before bed, he says. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is appropriate. “Some people report headaches or stomach problems at higher doses, but those side-effects are uncommon,” he says.

Still, there are other concerns. “Melatonin has an incredible safety record, no doubt about it,” says Dr. Mark Moyad, the Jenkins/Pomkempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan. “But it’s a hormone, and you don’t want to mess around with hormones until you know what they’re doing.”

People with existing medical problems should discuss melatonin with their doctor before using it. While some research has found that melatonin may help treat hyperglycemia in people with diabetes, for example, other studies have shown that, in diabetes patients who carry certain genetic traits, melatonin may interfere with glucose regulation. It’s these sorts of contradictory findings that give experts pause when it comes to issuing melatonin a full-throated endorsement.

“My advice is always to treat supplements like drugs, meaning don’t take a pill unless you need a pill,” Moyad says. He urges restraint with melatonin not because there’s evidence it’s dangerous, but because of the lack of evidence showing it’s safe in high doses over long periods. Especially for parents who are giving melatonin to healthy children, Moyad says caution is warranted. Melatonin appears to be safe, and it could provide a range of health benefits. But there are a lot of unknowns.

Contributor: Markham Heid – Time