Category Archives: Health

The factors that make for his happy lifestyle

What does the happiest man in America look like? According to a collaboration between The New York Times and Gallup, he’s Alvin Wong: a 69-year-old Chinese-American Jewish man, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. Wong runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year.

Why is Wong so jovial? Because he meets the criteria of what makes for happy living, according to data that Gallup has collected from Americans over the last three years on such factors as emotional health, financial status, stress, healthy habits, and more. Gallup uses the data to create an algorithm called the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index, which provides a daily glimpse into how well Americans feel. When the Timesasked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America based on their research, Wong fit the bill.

So what can the rest of us learn from Alvin Wong about our own chances for happiness? Here’s a look at a few factors that may contribute to a more blissful life, according to the Gallup Well-Being Index.

 

No. 1: Location, Location, Location — or Maybe Not

Wong’s home state of Hawaii ranks highest in the Well-Being Index with a score of 71 out of 100. Beautiful beaches and abundant sunshine are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face, but Hawaii is by no means the only state with happiness potential. In fact, within four points of the Aloha State are Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota, Utah, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Massachusetts — proving that you don’t have to live in a tropical paradise to be happy.

At the bottom of the index, the least happy states include Michigan, Louisiana, Nevada, Delaware, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and, in last place, West Virginia.

 

No. 2: Money Makes a Difference — to a Point

While Wong’s reported household income of $120,000 correlated with feeling good about his life, recent research shows that the magic number may actually be less than that — $45,000 less, in fact. The 2010 study from Princeton University showed that there may be diminishing returns on happiness once you’re earning more than $75,000 annually.

Beyond that number, most people didn’t experience an increase in day-to-day well-being, although they did report greater overall satisfaction with life. “It’s really important to recognize that the word ‘happiness’ covers a lot of ground,” study author Angus Deaton told HealthDay in After $75,000, Money Can’t Buy Day-to-Day Happiness. “There is your overall evaluation of how your life is going, while the other has to do more with emotional well-being at the moment. Higher incomes don’t seem to have any effect on well-being after around $75,000, whereas your evaluation of your life keeps going up along with income.”

Women to require urgent hospital care

Men are much more likely than women to require urgent hospital care within a month of being discharged from the hospital, a new study finds.

Researchers followed 367 men and 370 women for 30 days after they were discharged from the Boston Medical Center to determine if gender played a role in the need for follow-up urgent care, including readmission to the hospital.

The study was published April 18 in the online journal BMJ Open.

Men in the study were an average of about four years younger than the women, and tended to have better-paying jobs and more access to private health insurance. Women were more likely than men to have a family doctor and to have been diagnosed with depression at some time in the past, with twice as many women taking antidepressants.

The study found that the return rate for urgent care within 30 days of discharge was 29 percent for women and 47 percent for men. Men were twice as likely to go to the emergency room, according to a journal news release.

Many key factors predicted men’s return to hospital. They were 72 percent more likely to return if they were unmarried or retired, 64 percent more likely if they had not seen their family doctor since their discharge and 53 percent more likely if they were depressed.

“Our findings raise the possibility that social isolation — as illustrated by the positive association with being retired or unmarried, and [having] symptoms of depression — may be important factors to target for intervention,” wrote Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, of the department of family medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues, in the release.

The researchers noted that previous studies found that men’s social isolation tends to contribute to poorer health results for them, and that women are better at using health services.

Just Another Day in the ER

Emergency departments in areas blasted by this winter’s record snowfalls say the storms themselves have offered something of a respite from what has otherwise been a steady stream of heart attacks and injuries related to the freakish weather.

In Chicago, which is now digging out from its third biggest snowstorm ever, hospital staff told MedPage Today and ABC News that their emergency rooms are relatively quiet, although they expect to see more patients once people and cars venture out again.

A spokeswoman for Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago said in an e-mail early Wednesday that the emergency department “has only a handful of patients. This is not surprising to emergency room doctors due to the fact that it’s difficult to travel and people aren’t really walking in from the street.”

She said the hospital had a busy period during the night when “30 to 40 stranded motorists” who had been rescued from a huge traffic jam on Lake Shore Drive were brought in for warming, with some needing minor medical care as well.

Added a spokesman for the University of Chicago Hospital, “[Our ED is] as empty as I have ever seen it.”

Because hospitals in the Midwest had two days of warnings before the snow hit, they had plenty of time to prepare.

At Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a spokesman said in an e-mail that seven patients with elective surgeries scheduled for Wednesday were brought in Tuesday “so they didn’t have to travel in the snow.” He said many surgeries had been rescheduled for later in the week.

“Hundreds of staff … spent the night at the hospital to ensure they would be on time for their morning shifts,” he added.

Along the East Coast, which has been struck repeatedly with heavy snows starting the day after Christmas, emergency personnel reported that they had seen waves of patients with weather-related problems immediately after each storm subsided.

Alan Jon Smally, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut — where more snow and ice were expected Wednesday — told MedPage Today and ABC News in an e-mail that he anticipated “a lot of snowblower (severe) hand injuries, heart attacks (shoveling), and car crashes today and tomorrow.”

In New Jersey, where the snow totals through January were already about double the historical average for an entire winter, weather-related emergency department visits also appear to be running ahead of normal.

A spokeswoman for St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., said the hospital was seeing about two heart attacks related to snow shoveling with every storm, an increase over the norm.

Carry Long Term Death Risk

The risk of death after head injury remained significantly increased for as long as 13 years, irrespective of the severity of the injury, results of a case-control study showed.

Overall, patients with a history of head injury had more than a twofold greater risk of death than did two control groups of individuals without head injury.

Among young adults, the risk disparity ballooned to more than a fivefold difference, Scottish investigators reported online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

“More than 40% of young people and adults admitted to hospital in Glasgow after a head injury were dead 13 years later,” Dr. Thomas M. McMillan, of the University of Glasgow, and coauthors wrote in the discussion of their findings. “This stark finding is not explained by age, gender, or deprivation characteristics.”

“As might be expected following an injury, the highest rate of death occurred in the first year after head injury,” they continued. “However, risk of death remained high for at least a further 12 years when, for example, death was 2.8 times more likely after head injury than for community controls.”

Previous studies of mortality after head injury have focused primarily on early death, either during hospitalization or in the first year after the injury. Whether the excess mortality risk persists over time has remained unclear, the authors noted.

Few studies have compared mortality after head injury with expected mortality in the community. To provide that missing context, McMillan and coauthors conducted a case-control study involving 757 patients who incurred head injuries of varying severity from February 1995 to February 1996 and were admitted to a Glasgow-area hospital.

For comparison, the investigators assembled two control groups, both matched with the cases for age, sex, and socioeconomic status and one matched for duration of hospitalization after injury not involving the head.

One control group was comprised of persons hospitalized for other injured and other comparison group included healthy non-hospitalized adults.

The cases comprised 602 men and 155 women who had a mean age of 43, and almost 70 percent were in the lowest socioeconomic quintile.

At the end of follow-up, 305 of the head-injured patients had died, compared with 215 of the hospitalized control group, and 135 of healthy, non-hospitalized adults.

Mortality after one year remained significantly higher in the head-injury group—34 percent versus 24 percent among the hospitalized comparison group and 16 percent for the healthy non-hospitalized adults.

The reason behind the incident is important

Fainting occurs when one’s blood pressure suddenly drops, resulting in a decrease of blood flow to the brain.

A number of things can affect blood pressure, from abrupt changes in posture (like going from lying down to standing), dehydration, and certain medications. Feeling faint can include dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea. One’s field of vision may even “black out.” This loss of consciousness triggers a loss in muscle control. That’s what causes the person to fall to the ground.

One of the most common types of fainting is caused by a sort of crossed signal between the brain and the vagus nerve, a large nerve that runs from the brain to the stomach. When this nerve is overstimulated, a person may faint. In such cases, you can usually figure out the reason — maybe you were standing for a long time, fainted at the sight of blood, or due to some kind of emotional distress, trauma, or pain.

Some people faint because they’ve suddenly constricted their carotid artery (the artery in the neck) by turning their head abruptly or wearing a too-tight collar. Straining to make a bowel movement or even urinating can sometimes cause fainting, too.

Fainting can also occur in people who have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, most common among diabetics because of fluctuating insulin levels. Dehydration can also cause fainting, particularly in the elderly. Certain types of medications, including

diuretics, heart medications, psychiatric drugs, antihistamines, and narcotics, can also trigger a fainting episode, as can alcohol.