Lowering cholesterol protects your heart and brain, regardless of your age

February 25, 2021 Adiantku 0

High or abnormal cholesterol levels, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction play a key role in atherosclerosis and plaque buildup, the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes. (Endothelial dysfunction refers to impaired functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels on the heart’s surface. It results in these vessels inappropriately narrowing instead of widening, which limits blood flow.) There are many different types of cholesterol, including high density lipoprotein (HDL, or good, cholesterol); triglycerides (a byproduct of excess calories consumed, which are stored as fat); and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol).

It’s well established that lowering LDL cholesterol, sometimes regardless of whether or not you have high cholesterol, improves cardiovascular outcomes. But do older adults reap the same benefits from lowering cholesterol, and do they face additional risks?

Lowering LDL reduces cardiovascular risk

Studies have consistently shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attacks, … Read the rest

Natural remedies for hemorrhoids

February 24, 2021 Adiantku 0

Hemorrhoids are painful, unpleasant, and, um, well, difficult to talk about. But they actually are quite common: about half of people over age 50 have had them. However, they’re easy to treat and manage.

“Hemorrhoids can be troublesome and embarrassing, but they often shrink on their own with simple self-help care and over-the-counter remedies,” says Dr. Howard LeWine, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins near the anus. Common symptoms are rectal pain, itching, bleeding, and occasional protruding veins outside the anus.

There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. You can have either type by itself, or both at the same time.

Internal hemorrhoids. These form inside the anal canal and usually are painless. However, they may cause intermittent bleeding with bowel movements, and sometimes discharge mucus. Internal hemorrhoids also can protrude outside the anus and look like small, … Read the rest

Does your health monitor have device bias?

February 21, 2021 Adiantku 0

In recent years, there’s been a veritable explosion in the number and type of health monitoring devices available in smartphones and fitness apps.

Your smartphone is likely tracking the number of steps you take, how far and fast you walk, and how many flights of stairs you climb each day. Some phones log sleep, heart rate, how much energy you’re burning, and even “gait health” (how often are both feet on the ground? how even are your steps?). And, of course, nonphone wearables and fitness gadgets are available, such as devices to measure your heart rhythm, blood pressure, or oxygen levels. The accuracy of these devices varies — and, in some instances, your skin tone may make a difference.

Generally, how accurate are health monitors?

I know from my experience with hospital monitoring devices that they aren’t always accurate. False alarms from EKG monitors often send medical staff scurrying into … Read the rest

The link between abdominal fat and death: What is the shape of health?

February 20, 2021 Adiantku 0

Body mass index, or BMI, has long been the standard tool for assessing weight status and health risk. A calculation of your size that takes into account your height and weight, BMI is frequently used because it’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive measurement tool. Yet, it lacks any assessment of how much fat a person has or how it’s distributed throughout the body, both of which are key indicators of metabolic health. A recent study published in The BMJ analyzed different measures of body shape — more specifically, of central or abdominal fat — to determine which measures were most predictive of premature death.

Abdominal fat associated with higher risk of death

Researchers in this study analyzed the following measurements of central fatness: waist, hip, and thigh circumference; waist-to-hip ratio; waist-to-height ratio; waist-to-thigh ratio; body adiposity index (which incorporates hip circumference and height); and a body shape index (calculated … Read the rest

Why won’t some health care workers get vaccinated?

February 19, 2021 Adiantku 0

Many Americans cannot wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They call hotline numbers. They search online for vaccine clinics. They wait for hours in line. Yet, others with ready access to the vaccine have declined it in large numbers. Staff in long-term care facilities were prioritized to receive the vaccine, but many are choosing not to get vaccinated. Why?

Nobody is more familiar with the impact of COVID-19 than staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have been ground zero for the pandemic. Large numbers of residents and staff have contracted the virus. Nearly 40% of the COVID deaths in the US have occurred among residents of these facilities. Over 1,500 nursing home staff have also died from COVID, making nursing home caregiver the most dangerous job in America.

Nonetheless, many long-term care staff continue to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. In a recent CDC report, nursing … Read the rest

Grandparenting: Anticipating March 11

February 18, 2021 Adiantku 0

March 11th, 2020 — or was it March 12th, or a few days before or beyond that? Each of us has a date and time etched in our minds when we knew that the COVID-19 pandemic was upon us. Now, the anniversary of that date is fast approaching. What, if anything, do we do to mark it? And how do we convey our thoughts and feelings about this milestone to our grandchildren?

Anyone who has reached grandparenthood has collected anniversaries along the way. There are anniversaries of joyful occasions, and ones that serve as painful reminders of loss. There are the personal anniversaries — the births and deaths of loved ones — and public ones, including 9/11, the moon landing, and (for those of us in our mid-60s and older) the deaths of JFK, RFK, and MLK. For many of us, the upcoming anniversary of the pandemic has elements of … Read the rest

What’s your approach to health? Check your medicine cabinet

February 17, 2021 Adiantku 0

Do all kids spy? Just me? When I was a child, I spent hours snooping in my parents’ nightstands, Granny’s pocketbook, my older brothers’ dresser drawers. I’m not sure what I was looking for, exactly, other than validation of my suspicion that the teenagers and adults in my life were keeping secrets from me.

And no opportunity for sleuthing seemed richer than the twin mirrored medicine cabinets hanging from my parents’ bathroom wall. My mother’s was kind of boring, its glass shelves lined with bottles of aspirin and antacids, plus a dusty jar of jewel-toned bath oil beads. My father’s was a treasure trove — to me, at least. An orthopedic surgeon, he had access to all sorts of paraphernalia with which he stocked his medicine cabinet: syringes, alcohol, sterile gauze, tincture of opium, ACE bandages, gentian violet, and even butazolidin, an injectable anti-inflammatory long off the market for humans, … Read the rest

Can dust mite allergy be treated with a pill?

February 15, 2021 Adiantku 0

It’s something people don’t like to think about, but it’s a fact that dust mites are all around us. These mites are microscopic relatives of spiders and ticks who live off of skin cells that we shed. It is almost impossible to eradicate them, and even the cleanest home has dust mites. Though dust mites do not bite us or cause rashes, they are a common cause of year-round allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. People with dust mite allergy have a persistently itchy nose even when not physically around dusty objects.

A recent study has shown that a new way of treating dust mite allergy is effective and safe. What do you need to know about this treatment, called sublingual immunotherapy?

Dust mite allergy and management

The first-line management of dust mite allergy is always to manage the environment. Beyond cleaning (wiping surfaces, washing linens), … Read the rest

Flowers, chocolates, organ donation — are you in?

February 14, 2021 Adiantku 0

Chocolates and flowers are great gifts for Valentine’s Day. But what if the gifts we give this year could be truly life-changing? A gift that could save someone’s life, or free them from dialysis?

You can do this. For people in need of organ, tissue, or blood donation, a donor can give them a gift that exceeds the value of anything that you can buy. That’s why February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day — it’s also National Donor Day, a time when health organizations nationwide sponsor blood drives and sign-ups for organ and tissue donation. Read on if you’ve ever wondered what can be donated, had reservations about donating your organs or tissues after death, or had concerns about the risks of becoming a live donor.

The enormous impact of organ, tissue, or cell donation

It’s hard to overstate the impact donors can make in the lives of … Read the rest

5 myths about endometriosis

February 13, 2021 Adiantku 0

While endometriosis is a common condition, affecting as many as one in every 10 American women, it is complex and often misunderstood. Endometriosis occurs when tissue much like the tissue that normally lines the uterus — called the endometrium — starts to grow elsewhere in the body. These growths may cause pain, scarring, and, in some instances, infertility.

One study shows it can take up to seven years for a woman to get a diagnosis of endometriosis because symptoms may mimic other common conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease. And misconceptions about the disease, including the five myths below, may keep some women from seeking help. Talk to your health care team if you’re concerned about painful periods or other possible symptoms of endometriosis, such as long-lasting pain in your lower back or pelvis.

5 myths — and the facts — about endometriosis

Myth 1: Read the rest