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Toddler meals swimming in salt
March 21st, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Toddler meals swimming in salt

Most packaged meals and snacks marketed to toddlers have more than the recommended amount of sodium per serving, meaning children as young as one are most likely eating far too much salt early in life, according to one of several studies on sodium presented this week.

The studies were presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

The findings were alarming to researchers since there is evidence a child's sodium intake is related to the likelihood that he or she will develop hypertension as an adult. Hypertension is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease and the number-one killer of men and women in the United States. FULL POST


Lessons about disease...from mummies
March 10th, 2013
07:58 PM ET

Lessons about disease...from mummies

Talk about a startling juxtaposition: A mummy in a CT scanner. You may be wondering: Why in the world would a mummy get a CT scan?

It turns out that preserved peoples are great study subjects, especially when you are trying to figure out the roots of health problems that span millennia.

A study released Sunday in The Lancet suggests that atherosclerosis - the disease that makes arteries go rigid, and is a leading cause of death worldwide - may have been around for thousands of years.

"We like to say that we found the serial killer that's stalked mankind for 4,000 years," said Dr. Randall Thompson, attending cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, and lead author of the study.
FULL POST


February 28th, 2013
04:29 PM ET

Sitting less may reduce diabetes risk

How long have you been sitting today? Here's one more reason that you should get up and move around once in a while.

A new study in the journal Diabetologia suggests that reducing your sitting time is more important in lowering your risk of diabetes than exercise. This is just the latest in a string of research suggesting that moving around helps your health. But the new results should not replace standard recommendations for exercise, and more research is required to understand the reasons for the findings, said lead study author Joseph Henson.

"It looks as if just sitting for long periods of time has a real negative impact upon overall health," Henson said.

FULL POST


Why you should act quickly at first sign of heart attack
December 18th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Why you should act quickly at first sign of heart attack

Calling 911 as soon as symptoms of a heart attack begin saves lives, according to the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology new guidelines published in the AHA journal Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The newly developed standards are designed to be user-friendly and focus on streamlining care for patients.  They focus on balloon angioplasty and stenting as the best treatment plan for severe heart attacks.

When it comes to heart attacks, helping people understand "time is muscle" is key, says Dr. James Fang, one of the co-authors of the guidelines and director of the Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. "The longer the heart muscle goes without oxygen, e.g. blood flow, the greater the heart muscle damage," he says. FULL POST


This is your brain on smoking
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

This is your brain on smoking

That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.

But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.

The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST

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Filed under: Addiction • Alzheimer's • Brain • Cancer • Heart • Longevity • Smoking • Stroke

Four things experts want you to know about your heart
November 9th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

Four things experts want you to know about your heart

The American Heart Association just concluded its annual "Scientific Sessions" conference, where heart experts gather to discuss and share findings about the latest treatments, procedures and studies about heart health and heart disease prevention.

While many of the presentations targeted doctors to improve their knowledge and understanding about keeping hearts healthy and treating heart disease, some the presentations included information to help consumers understand how to keep their hearts healthy.

Professor Donna Arnett is the current President of the American Heart Association and she's the first epidemiologist to lead the AHA. She discussed four things that heart experts want you to know, based upon information presented during the conference:

1. Don't rely on multivitamins to protect heart health. A large study of doctors found that taking a daily multivitamin didn't reduce major heart events such as heart attacks, stroke or death from heart disease. Many people take multivitamins under the false assumption that they will prevent heart disease or other medical conditions.
FULL POST


Stem cells vs. heart attacks
November 6th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Stem cells vs. heart attacks

For years it was thought that most damage from a major heart attack was permanent:  Dead tissue turns to scar tissue, leading to the heart muscle’s gradual deterioration.

But now, there is growing optimism that stem cell therapy may help patients with damaged hearts return to a fully functional life, based on results from early studies.

Of course, larger studies have to confirm the results and the devil is in the details. Those details were on display in a series of five presentations Tuesday at the American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

Most promising was long-term data on 20 patients with severe, long-term heart failure stemming from past heart attacks.  These patients not only improved dramatically after receiving an infusion of their own heart stem cells, but continued to get better two full years after treatment.

“That’s from just one injection of these cells,” says Dr. Roberto Bolli, the lead researcher and chief of cardiology at the University of Louisville.  Such improvement is virtually unheard of, he explains.  With standard care, “we know that these patients don’t get better with time because once you have a scar, you have a scar.” FULL POST


Young patients, docs can miss signs of heart disease, attack
November 6th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

Young patients, docs can miss signs of heart disease, attack

When some people think about heart disease, they think primarily of older adults.  However, both doctors and young patients miss opportunities to recognize symptoms of heart problems and treat them proactively, according to research presented at the American Heart Association conference.

A study discussed Tuesday found a common risk factor for heart disease - high blood pressure, or hypertension - often goes undiagnosed in younger patients.

"This research directly addresses the public health burden in the U.S. as far as rising rates of hypertension among young adults, especially with the growing rate of obesity," said Dr. Heather Johnson, lead study author from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. FULL POST


Neighborhood determines likelihood bystanders will offer CPR
October 24th, 2012
05:31 PM ET

Neighborhood determines likelihood bystanders will offer CPR

Imagine this scenario: a middle-aged man clutches his chest and falls to the ground in a grocery store parking lot.  He's unconscious and seems to be in the throes of cardiac arrest.  There are people in the parking lot around him and almost all of them saw him fall.

Will someone give this man cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?  Well, that may depend on the type of neighborhood he's in.

A new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the rate of bystander-initiated CPR varies according to the characteristics of the neighborhood where the cardiac arrest occurred.  If the man in the above scenario collapsed in a high-income, non-African-American neighborhood, the odds that someone would give him CPR are higher than if he fell in a low-income or predominantly African-American neighborhood. FULL POST


Exercise may preserve brain better than games
October 23rd, 2012
04:11 PM ET

Exercise may preserve brain better than games

One of the sad realities about Alzheimer's disease is that there's no way of preventing it – at least not yet.  We know some people are genetically or biologically at greater risk than others, but researchers want to find out how we can fight it off, or at least delay it.

The strongest evidence for a lifestyle choice associated with Alzheimer's prevention is exercise.  A new study in the journal Neurology supports that, and also suggests that working out is more effective at protecting the brain than cognitive challenges such as games and puzzles.

Researchers studied a group of nearly 700 participants from Scotland, all born in 1936, who reported their leisure and physical activity levels at age 70.  They rated physical activity on a scale from "moving only in connection with necessary (household) chores" to "keep-fit/heavy exercise or competitive sport several times per week," the study said.  Participants also rated how often they engaged in various social and intellectual activities.

FULL POST


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About this blog

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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