Friday, December 31, 2010

Bad For the Heart Equals Bad For the Brain

What's bad for the heart is also bad for the brain. That's what Rachel A. Whitmer's medical research in Oakland, California, has determined.

People who heavily smoke in midlife are at double the risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia than their contemporaries.

Over 25% of the 21,123 ethnically diverse 50-60 year olds tested over a period of 23 years were diagnosed with dementia. Those who smoked more than 2 packs of cigarettes a day in midlife had a 157% increased risk of developing Alzheimer's and a 172% increased risk of developing vascular dementia (caused by damage to the arteries in the brain).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Couple of Preventive Measures For Stroke

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association recommends measures to avoid a second or subsequent stroke: Treat metabolic syndrome and undergo carotid angioplasty.

Patients who have had a stroke or TIA are at high risk of having another one.

Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes. They are caused by a lack of blood to the brain.

Treatment for metabolic syndrome includes changes in diet and exercise to lower blood pressure and high cholesterol.

If safe, patients should undergo angioplasty and stenting in the carotid artery as well as take other measures to reduce chances of recurrence.

Even though the finding may not be conclusive, a new research review reported that "downing a few drinks (3-4 standard drinks) or contracting an infection such as the flu seem to be connected to a short-term spike in the risk of stroke" by as much as 2 - 4 times.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Less Sleep Equals Risky Colon Polyps?

My eyes and ears perk up when I notice "unlikely" medical connections. For instance, once I saw the article entitled, "Lack of Sleep Linked to Risky Colon Polyps," I was hooked.

According to an article by Adam Marcus, dated October 15, 2010, in Reuters Health Information, in one recent study, "people who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to have dangerous polyps in their colon or rectum compared to better-rested patients."

Approximately 10% of these polyps develop into cancerous tumors. But don't be mistaken...the findings don't prove that lack of sleep causes these polyps to occur, only that lack of sleep could be one factor in colon cancer.

The study doesn't show how these two criteria might be connected. However, Dr. Li Li at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center wonders if the sleep hormone melatonin protects against cancer tumors.

At any rate, researchers have much to ponder.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Unusual Climb in Celiac Disease: When to Stay Away From Rye, Wheat or Barley

Just yesterday my husband, CarMan, finally noticed all the hype about gluten. "What is gluten?" he asked.

Gluten is a type of protein found in some but not all grains. Rye, wheat and barley that are found in cereals or many types of bread contain gluten.

The incidence of Americans, especially the elderly, who are intolerant to gluten as doubled every 15 years since 1974, according to findings reported in the September 27, 2010, edition of Annals of Medicine.

Researchers in a 2003 study showed a rate of about 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder identified with gluten-intolerance. The rate of occurrence tends to rise as the population ages. A Finnish study suggested that the disease is 2.5 times more common in the elderly than the population in general.

Physicians may want to test for celiac disease when their patients complain of diarrhea, intestinal boating, stomach cramps, joint pain, chronic fatigue or depression. Left untreated the disease interferes with nutrient absorption and small intestine damage.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gift Cards...Are Sure To Please

Ahhh, one of my favorite gifts is a gift card. I know it doesn't usually come wrapped up prettily and you don't get to dive into a tissue-filled box but the anticipation of using it makes up for any unwrapping frenzy.

This last August an act was passed to extend expiration dates for 5 years. This gives us some time to find those misplaced cards during the non-holiday times of the year.

I can't tell you how often I've cleaned drawers (not my favorite chore) only to find (to my delight) a new or partially used gift card. It almost makes the chore bearable.

The Consumer Action Website provides tips for using your gift cards:

1. Read the terms, conditions and expiration

2. Record the card's ID number and keep the information in a safe place

3. Don't lose your card...but if you do, use the above information to replace it

Have fun, stay well, and happy holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Elderly Kidney Failure Patients More Likely Than Ever Before to Get Transplants

Just the other day I was half-listening to NPR. They were chatting about the likelihood of getting kidney transplants in South Africa. Possible recipients used to be grouped according to age, motivation, BMI, and other factors and complications.

In an October 28, 2010, news release from HealthDay News by Robert Preidt, "elderly kidney failure patients in the United States are twice as likely to get a kidney transplant as they were in the mid-199o's, although the likelihood is still low."

48% of the half a million people who suffer kidney failure are 60+ years of age. This age group should not discount transplantation as chances of finding a living donor or older deceased donor are greater than ever.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your Government Is Working For You: Holiday (And Other) Gift Ideas

Now this is a new one to me. Our government is making gift suggestions! And they are among the best I've seen.

Some come from museums and presidential libraries, some from Amtrak...even some from the post office. Honestly, folks, you can't go wrong at this site.

There are coin sets, folk recordings, jewelry, badges, collectibles, national park passes, photography and prints, tree ornaments, toys, games, apparel, books, food, bath items, event tickets, World War II memorabilia. You can even adopt an animal species.

I personally am going no farther for my future gifts.

Budgeting for a Happy Holiday

I know. You thought I had fallen away from the earth. Well, almost.

Being part of the sandwich generation, I've recently dealt with health issues (my mother), reworking my website (me) and wedding plans (my daughter).

The health issues are getting resolved as we speak (write) and the website is looking better than ever. But the wedding plans still have a ways to go even if the wedding is only 2 months away.

The big problem with weddings is getting what you want but staying within the budget and my kid is vigilant about that (good for her and her fiance!).

Keeping to a budget isn't specific to weddings. It pertains to yearlong (and future) plans.

Now that the holidays are upon us, some personal budgeting might be a wise way to go. Cut down your gift-giving list to the "essential" people. Think "do-it-yourself." Use last year's decorations. Use funky wrapping paper--like the comics. Forego the little things.

I want to share with you a cool site that aids you with your holiday spending. You enter the amount you've budgeted and the actual prices paid. The closer you get to the amount you've budgeted reveals how good you are at this game.

Good luck and happy holidays!