Health Bulletin

People are taking charge

The percentage of Americans who have high blood pressure – about 30 percent – has been the same since 1999. But here’s some good news. According to data from a survey and physical exams of more than 9,000 people published this year:

• More than 80 percent of adults with high blood pressure know they have it, compared with 70 percent in 1999-2000.
• Nearly 74 percent of high blood pressure patients took drugs to treat it, compared with 60 percent in 1999-2000.
• More than 48 percent of adults have their blood pressure under control, compared to 30 percent in 1999-2000.

Want to live longer?

Four regular health habits, combined, can prolong your life by as much as 14 years, according to a British study. They are:

• Not smoking
• Drinking less than 7 glasses of wine each week
• Getting at least half an hour of physical activity each day
• Consuming 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables to boost levels of vitamin C

While eating our veggies, not being coach potatoes, and kicking cigarettes may seem obvious, now is the time, when you’re in your 30s and 40s, to get the ball rolling and maximize the life extending benefits of these good health habits.

Legal but lethal

If you were to rank cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, alcohol, marijuana, and crystal meth, which would you say is the most destructive? British researchers evaluated each of these substances according to various criteria, such as the degree to which it harms the body, environmental damage, its role in breaking up families, and its cost to the health-care system, prisons, and social services.

The most lethal drugs to individuals were heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal meth. But overall, alcohol outranked the other substances because it’s so widely used and the consequences are devastating not only for the drinker but for those around her. When consumed in excess, alcohol damages nearly all of the organs; it’s also connected to higher death rates, and it’s a factor in more crimes than most other drugs are, including heroin.

Put on a happy face

Conventional wisdom (as well as numerous studies) has found that lack of education is a strong predictor of poor health. But a recent study published in the journal Health Psychology found that those who felt good about life and themselves may be just as well off healthwise as their more educated peers. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, measured levels of an inflammatory protein. High levels are associated with a number of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. The researchers found that people who had a high-school-level education (or less) but who also showed high scores of general happiness and self-acceptance had inflammation levels comparable to those in highly educated people.

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