Today’s Headlines: Heart Attacks, Positivity and Fancy Pedometers

Women experience more stress than men after heart attacks. Heart disease is the number one killer among older men and women. Unfortunately, young women who have heart attacks also seem to be at higher risk for problems afterwards. New research out this week may have found out one reason why. “The researchers compared 2,397 women and 1,175 men under age 55 who were hospitalized in the U.S., Spain or Australia with a heart attack. The severity of the heart attacks was similar for women and men. While hospitalized, participants answered questions about their recent stress levels. One month later, researchers re-interviewed them and assessed their recovery.” Women tended to be more stressed during these first interviews and more often experienced family conflict, a major personal injury, illness or death of a family member over the past year. According to the researchers, “women tend to have lower financial resources than men and are often faced with more demands for family care, which may explain their higher stress. Women in the study also had more diabetes, lung disease, kidney problems, depression, cancer and previous heart problems.” The researchers don’t know why women might be in worse health or how exactly stress is causing worse recovery. (Reuters)

When people talk, they like to keep it positive. You might have noticed that conversation at most parties tends toward the positive rather than the negative. New research out this week has found that there may really be something to that observation. “An international group of mathematicians, modelers and linguists set out to test that hypothesis. They combed through Twitter, the New York Times, the Google Books Project, Google’s Web Crawl, and a library of movie and television subtitles and song lyrics to draw up lists of the roughly 10,000 most frequently used words in each of ten languages.” After doing this for a variety of languages, they fed the common words back to native speakers and had them rate words on how happy or sad the words were. “They found that each language, on the whole, uses positive words more frequently and in a wider range of forms than they do negative words. There were gradations of relative linguistic happiness, of course: Spanish, followed by Brazilian Portuguese, English and Indonesian, topped the list for happy language; Chinese appeared least happy, with Korean, Russian and Arabic showing low but increasing levels of linguistic happiness.” The researchers say that a database like this, tracked over time, could reflect the shifting mood of a culture or nation.  (LA Times)

Fancy trackers are probably no better at counting than free apps. When you step into your local fitness store, it can be tempting to go for the fanciest new pedometer over the free app you might already have installed on your phone. New findings indicate you should probably spend your money elsewhere. “For the study, researchers outfitted 14 healthy adult volunteers with 10 different tracking methods: smartphones in each pocket running four different apps, three belt-clip pedometers and three wrist-based fitness bands. Each tech-laden volunteer then walked on a treadmill while researchers manually counted their steps.” They found that most of the devices were accurate regardless of whether they were specialized pedometers or apps installed on a phone. While some trackers overshot and some undershot, the researchers emphasized that using one tracker consistently is more important. Once you get a sense of your activity based on that measure, it’s more important that you’re increasing how much you move rather than how many steps total you take. (TIME)