Blacks, Poor At Higher Risk Of Heart Disease; Overall Death Rate Falls

The death rate from heart disease plummeted nationally over several decades for all racial and ethnic groups, but the rate of decline has slowed slightly and African Americans and low-income individuals are still at a higher risk of developing the disease and dying from it, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The report isn’t surprising to Dr. Edward Schuster, medical director, Stamford Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.  “In the United States, there’s a lot of talk about income disparity, which is a political hotcake,” Schuster said. “But what we are seeing is a life expectancy disparity. According to a recent Journal of American Medical Association, if you’re a man in the top 1 percent of income, you can expect to live 13 years longer than someone in the 1 percent at the bottom.”

Heart disease is largely preventable by maintaining a balanced diet, a healthy weight and moderate exercise, with only 20 percent of cases involving genetics, said Dr. David L. Katz, who heads the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, which works with communities to develop programs to control chronic diseases. But significant groups in lower income and urban areas don’t—or can’t—act on the message, Katz said.

Doctors And Patients See Benefits Of Wearable Technology

As glucose monitors, continuous ultrasound systems, Fitbits and other wearable technology become more prevalent, the devices are changing the way doctors care for their patients and the way patients care for themselves. Wearable technology is still evolving, but doctors already see the benefits, says Stephen Huot, a medical professor at Yale University. And while technology is not a substitute for doctor-patient conversations, “it could be game changing,” he says. A nationwide Pew Research Center survey in 2012 found that 69 percent of adults monitor at least one health indicator, such as weight, diet or exercise, and 21 percent said they used some form of technology to keep track. That number is projected to increase as wearable technology becomes more available.

Middle-Age “Senior Moments’’ Just Part Of Aging

Everyone occasionally struggles to remember a name, blanks out on an appointment or forgets why they walked into the other room. But somewhere around age 40, those “senior moments” start to take on a new seriousness. They suddenly seem like scary signs of aging, perhaps harbingers of major memory loss to come. “A few years ago, these complaints were just dismissed,” says Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Now, researchers have become interested in mid-life memory, both to understand their patients’ complaints, and because of the recognition that the seeds of dementia are laid around this time of life.

As Gap Widens, A Push For Learning For Under-Threes

When Connecticut’s new kindergarten class starts school in a few weeks, as many as a third of the children from the state’s poorest communities will be walking into their first classroom ever. Among their peers from the state’s richest areas, 97 percent will have attended preschool. It’s a persistent gap that can affect a child’s success through school and beyond, and it widened from 2011 to 2012, according to Connecticut Voices for Children.  The percentage of kindergartners in poor communities who had attended preschool fell from 69.5 percent in the 2010-11 school year to 65.9 percent in 2011-12.  For children in wealthy communities the percentage rose from 94.9 percent to 97.4 percent. And while the importance of kindergarten readiness is well known, child advocates are now pressing policymakers to recognize that the need for quality learning begins long before a child even reaches preschool age.

Yale Study: Moms Who Can’t Afford Diapers Are More Likely To Be Depressed

Low-income mothers in New Haven who can’t afford enough diapers to keep their babies clean and dry are more likely to report trouble coping with stress, depression or trauma, according to a study published today in the journal Pediatrics. The survey of 877 New Haven mothers found that nearly 30 percent said they didn’t have enough diapers to change their children as often as they would like, and the problem was more common among Hispanic women and caregivers over age 45, usually grandmothers. Women who reported diaper need were nearly twice as likely to experience mental health issues, although the nature of the link is unclear. The authors hypothesize that the link could be direct, or it could be part of more complex interaction between mental health and poverty. “It could be that moms who have more mental health difficulties have trouble obtaining diapers,” said the lead author, Megan Smith, an assistant professor of psychiatry, child study and public health at Yale University.