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March 21st, 2012
04:18 PM ET

Red flag found for imminent heart attack

Most heart attacks hit without warning – when a blister plaque on the blood vessel wall ruptures. The resulting clot starves the heart of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, causing a heart attack and possibly death.

Traditional diagnostic tools like treadmill stress tests only pick up major blockages in the blood vessels, but they don’t alert doctors to this type of impending catastrophe. That’s because the vast majority of heart attacks occur in people whose blood vessels are narrowed only slightly by cholesterol-laden plaque.

“We can’t detect these mild narrowings, which are almost exclusively responsible for heart attacks,” says Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California.

But Topol and a team of researchers now think they’ve found a way to determine which patients are only days or weeks away from a heart attack.
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Avoiding dementia similar to heart disease – lifestyle changes important
March 13th, 2012
08:01 AM ET

Avoiding dementia similar to heart disease – lifestyle changes important

Late-life dementia has a lot in common with heart disease – and many of the same causes, according to an article published Tuesday in Nature Reviews Neurology.

Like heart disease, the cognitive impairment that accompanies aging is usually the result of a combination of lifestyle and other factors, the article says. Diabetes, obesity, untreated hypertension, sedentary lifestyle and stress are all linked to both heart disease and dementia.

Other factors linked to dementia: untreated obstructive sleep apnea, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, vitamin B12 deficiency, post traumatic stress disorder, head trauma, brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen, and the ApoE, or Alzheimer’s, gene.

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Exporting the Chinese diet... to China
March 7th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Exporting the Chinese diet... to China

T. Colin Campbell co-authored a bestselling book touting the health benefits of eating like the rural Chinese. Now he’s trying to reacquaint the Chinese with the benefits of the plant-based diet he learned from them.

Campbell, who co-authored "The China Study" with his son, Thomas M. Campbell, said the Chinese are abandoning their vegetable-rich meals for fast food and other western fare.

“It’s ironic that some of the things we learned from the Chinese now we’re sort of taking back to China,” said Campbell, an American who is professor emeritus in nutritional sciences at Cornell University.
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Study: Brain suffers when fish oil falls short
February 27th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Study: Brain suffers when fish oil falls short

People with diets short on omega-3 fatty acids – the kind found in fish oil – were more likely to experience accelerated brain aging, a new study found.

“People with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of brain aging,” said Dr. Zaldy S. Tan, a member of the UCLA Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research in the Department of Neurology.

The study was published Tuesday in the print edition of the journal Neurology.

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Group sues EPA over popular weed killer
February 23rd, 2012
02:26 PM ET

Group sues EPA over popular weed killer

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit Thursday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over 2,4-D, a widely used ingredient in broad leaf weed killers.

The NRDC went to court with the agency over its alleged failure to respond to a petition calling for the EPA to stop licensing the use of 2,4-D, which was one of two ingredients in the toxic Vietnam war herbicide Agent Orange.

"It's really time to connect the dots with this chemical and be much more cautious about its use," said Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at NRDC. "Right now it's used in widespread fashion on people's lawns, back yards, playgrounds, ball fields and soccer fields, where kids are getting it on their skin. That's a particular problem."

The EPA does not comment on pending litigation, spokesman Dale Kemery said.
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EPA dioxin assessment raises red flag for some
February 22nd, 2012
08:55 AM ET

EPA dioxin assessment raises red flag for some

Nearly three decades in the making, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its landmark dioxin assessment with the conclusion: “Generally, over a person’s lifetime, current exposure to dioxins does not pose a significant health risk.”

But Dr. Arnold J. Schecter, a University of Texas professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, says dioxins pose a risk for fetuses, newborns and people with immune deficiencies such as AIDS patients.

“Some people are going to be more susceptible because they receive a higher dose or they’re more sensitive,” says Dr. Schecter, who served on an EPA advisory panel on dioxins.

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Proposed water safety standards criticized
February 10th, 2012
11:33 AM ET

Proposed water safety standards criticized

If you went to a beach where one in 28 swimmers later experienced diarrhea, stomachache or nausea, would you jump right in?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new water quality standards that would allow just such a beach to remain open, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“EPA has a duty to protect the public from all of these illnesses, but EPA seems to refuse to acknowledge this duty,” says Steve Fleischli, a senior attorney in the water program at NRDC who has written about the proposed criteria.
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EPA misses dioxin deadline
February 1st, 2012
11:22 AM ET

EPA misses dioxin deadline

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency missed its self-imposed deadline to complete a dioxin health assessment by the end of January. The agency, which has been working on publishing dioxin risks since the mid-1980s, on Wednesday said the report would be "finalized as expeditiously as possible."

The missed deadline prompted criticism from environmental groups.

"Shame on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for denying parents the information they need to protect their children from the health impacts of dioxin, said Lois Marie Gibbs, executive director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

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EPA offers free apps to check air quality, UV index
January 30th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

EPA offers free apps to check air quality, UV index

If you wanted to know the air quality Monday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (good), Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (moderate), or Modesto, California. (unhealthy for sensitive groups), a new smart phone app from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could have helped.

The EPA’s free AIRNow app for Apple or Android phones allows users to enter a Zip Code and receive the pollutant and ozone levels for more than 400 cities across the country. You can also choose to check your current location.

The app gives levels for ozone and particle pollution such as automotive exhaust and an overall assessment of “good,” “moderate,” “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy” and “hazardous.”
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War of words over looming EPA dioxin study
January 27th, 2012
11:04 AM ET

War of words over looming EPA dioxin study

With the EPA's deadline only days away, a war of words has erupted over whether the agency should go ahead with a dioxin study decades in the making.

Vietnam veterans, environmental advocates and women’s groups were among the more than 2,000 individuals and organizations signing a letter Thursday urging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to publish the dioxin risk assessment.

“We are writing to strongly urge you to finalize the EPA’s study on dioxin, which has been delayed for over 25 years,” the one-page letter says.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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