US life expectancy fell by nearly a year in 2021 to 76.1 years; Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill reduced the number of hospitalizations and deaths among older adults during the Omicron surge in Israel; current smokers were found to have thicker, heavier, and weaker hearts compared with nonsmokers.
Life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2021 to 76.1 years, NPR reported based on a provisional analysis from the CDC. This marks the second year in a row the US life expectancy fell; last week the CDC reported that life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years between 2019 and 2020 to 77.0 years. The largest drop in 2021 was among American Indian and Alaskan Native people, with the life expectancy for this group falling by 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 with Black and Hispanic Americans, which was opposite of what was seen in 2020. According to some experts, attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines and other measures may play a role in these reduced numbers.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, reduced the number of hospitalizations and deaths among adults 65 years and older during the Omicron surge in Israel, The New York Times reported. However, the treatment made no difference for adults younger than 65 years who were at high risk for severe COVID-19. These findings come from one of the first real-world studies on Paxlovid’s efficacy against the Omicron variant, which included data from nearly 110,000 individuals who contracted COVID-19 between January and March 2021. Among 42,821 older adults, 766 patients who did not receive Paxlovid were later hospitalized, while only 11 patients who received the treatment were hospitalized, reflecting a 73% relative risk reduction. Additionally, death occurred in 2 of 2484 older adults who received treatment, and in 158 of 40,337 untreated patients, reflecting a 79% risk reduction.
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 recuperate, Medical News Today reported. The study found that over a 10-year period, current smokers had thicker, heavier, and weaker hearts compared with individuals who had never smoked or quit smoking during that time. A correlation was also found between increased cigarette smoking and decreased ability of the heart to pump blood. Smoking cigarettes directly damages both the vascular and blood vessel walls, which leads to constriction, reduced elasticity, and impaired function of the endothelial or inner layer of the blood vessels, as well as a number of indirect effects.