Decline in life expectancy in 2021; Paxlovid has reduced hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19; Smoking affects heart structure

US life expectancy fell nearly a year in 2021 to 76.1 years; Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly during Omicron push in Israel; current smokers have thicker, heavier and weaker hearts than non-smokers.

US life expectancy drops again in 2021

U.S. life expectancy fell in 2021 to 76.1 years, NPR reported based on an interim CDC analysis. This is the second consecutive year of declining life expectancy in the United States; last week, the CDC reported that life expectancy fell 1.8 years between 2019 and 2020 to 77.0 years. The largest decline in 2021 was seen among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, with life expectancy for this group dropping nearly 2 years from 67.1 in 2020 to 65.2 in 2021. There was also a greater decrease in life expectancy among white Americans compared to black and Hispanic Americans, which was the opposite of what was seen in 2020. According to some experts, attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines and other measures may play a role in these reduced numbers.

Paxlovid has reduced the number of deaths from COVID-19 among the elderly in Israel

Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, reduced hospitalizations and deaths among adults 65 and older during Omicron push in Israel, The New York Times reported. However, the treatment made no difference for adults younger than 65 who were at high risk for severe COVID-19. These results come from one of the first real-world studies of the effectiveness of Paxlovid against the Omicron variant, which included data from nearly 110,000 people who contracted COVID-19 between January and March 2021. Among 42,821 elderly, 766 patients who did not receive Paxlovid were subsequently hospitalized, while only 11 patients who received the treatment were hospitalized, reflecting a relative risk reduction of 73%. Additionally, death occurred in 2 of 2,484 older adults who received treatment and in 158 of 40,337 untreated patients, reflecting a 79% risk reduction.

Smoking damages heart structure, study finds

According to researchers at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen, smoking negatively affects the structure and function of the heart, but quitting smoking can help the heart recover, Medical News Today reported. The study found that over a 10-year period, current smokers had thicker, heavier and weaker hearts than people who had never smoked or quit smoking during that time. A correlation has also been found between increased smoking and decreased ability of the heart to pump blood. Smoking cigarettes directly damages the vascular and blood vessel walls, resulting in constriction, reduced elasticity, and impaired function of the endothelium or inner layer of blood vessels, as well as a number indirect effects.

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