Today’s Headlines: How Sex Benefits the Brain, Signs of Cardiac Arrest, and a Statement from the CDC on Young Women Drinking

 

For older people, frequent sexual activity might improve memory. A new study has found that an active sex life helps aging brains. “After adjusting for other factors that might explain the link between brain function and sexual habits — age, relationship status, living arrangements, education, wealth, exercise routines, depression, loneliness and quality of life — older men’s sexual activity levels were still tied to how well they did on both word-recall and number sequencing tests, the study found. But in women, only word recall was associated with sex. Number sequencing broadly relates to thinking skills known as executive function, while word recall is tied specifically to memory, the study authors note in Age and Ageing.” The study admitted that more research is needed in this area to understand the brain benefits further. (Fox)

Your body may be trying to warn you of an impending cardiac episode. Researchers have found that cardiac arrest is not as much of a surprise as people may think. In fact, there may be symptoms you should be paying attention to. “A recent study that analyzed 839 sudden cardiac arrests found that in 430 cases, or 51 percent, patients exhibited warning signs in the four weeks before the arrest. The victims either failed to recognize the symptoms or ignored them—in most cases until it was too late. The missed symptoms included chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and heart palpitations—classic signs of an impending or actual heart attack.” It is important to see a doctor if you start to have any of these symptoms in order to prevent a dangerous attack or potential death. (Wall Street Journal)

Women having unprotected sex and who are not using contraception should abstain from drinking alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines emphasizing the link between women’s alcohol intake and fetal alcohol syndrome. “The C.D.C. report, released on Tuesday, estimated that 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 who drink alcohol risk exposing their infants to the disorders, which can stunt children’s growth and cause lifelong disabilities.” Many women won’t know they are pregnant for at least several weeks, especially if a pregnancy is unplanned, which makes alcohol consumption a risky behavior. (New York Times)

Slow Medicine for Heart Health

womenshearthealth

In the case of most illnesses, we have the opportunity to respond conventionally and/or holistically, so as to resolve the root problem and return to balance. In the case of heart disease, however, the first sign of a problem may be a fatal heart attack, as is the case about a third of the time. For this reason, heart disease – which is the leading cause of death among women and men alike – can feel both mystifying and terrifying. Additionally, in many women and in some men, there are no advance warnings of heart disease, which remains silent until a heart attack actually happens. For this reason, it is critically important to take all the necessary precautions to prevent heart disease. And for this reason, it is wise to consider steps beyond the conventional, which, as most people now realize, is limited. Slow Medicine offers the most comprehensive approach to heart health, as outlined below. Read more  »

How Taking Care of the Mind Takes Care of Your Heart

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Outdoor. Freedom concept. Beauty Girl

If you’re a regular watcher of the show, you probably know that I’m pretty serious about yoga and meditation. It wasn’t always like that. I loved college and med school, but I wasn’t doing much in those days to lay a solid foundation for my future health. Fortunately, a lot has changed since then and I’ve realized how central mental health is to health of the body overall. I love yoga and meditation because they clear my mind and help me relax, even during the most stressful of times. So why bring this all up? This month is American Heart Month and I want to spend some time over the next month giving you tips you can use to get your heart in better shape. First stop: mental health. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The Pain That Could Come with Diabetes, Mercury Levels in Relation to Alzheimer’s Disease, and Why Exercise is Not the Key to Weight Loss

People with diabetes have a higher risk for developing tendon pain. This pain, also known as tendinopathy, can prevent physical activity. “Based on an analysis of past studies, researchers found that people with Type 2 diabetes are more than three times as likely as those without the disease to have tendon pain… And people with diagnosed tendinopathy have 30 percent higher odds of having diabetes…Having injured tendons may make it difficult to stick with exercise programs, which are essential for management of diabetes.” In light of this, researchers still recommend exercising regularly and suggest starting an exercise routine gradually to minimize the onset of tendon pain or slow its progression. (Fox)

Research has shown that eating fish does not increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Mercury levels in fish can be harmful to people. But recent research has shown that mercury levels don’t necessarily lead to Alzheimer’s disease: “People who ate seafood at least once a week showed higher levels of mercury in the brain than those who ate less. But for people with a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, called ApoE4, eating more fish also showed lower amounts of harmful proteins in their brain.” These findings do not mean that fish is the cure for Alzheimer’s, but they do show that eating fish will not damage the brain and increase the risk for the disease. (Time)

Exercising a lot doesn’t guarantee weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that cutting calories and eating healthy, not exercise, is the best way to lose weight. “Moving around increased calories burned only up to a point. That contradicts the previous understanding of how activity and energy expenditure are directly linked. We’re used to thinking that more activity burns more calories, with no limit to that relationship. If there is a limit, exercising beyond it won’t help people lose weight.” While exercise may not help you lose weight, it is still essential for a healthy lifestyle and preventing chronic conditions like heart disease. (Washington Post)

Why It’s OK to Schedule Sex

happy couple in bed

I’ve always thought that “scheduling sex” was the death-knell of a relationship – like something those couples that also use the bathroom in front of each other do. I mean, did Carrie and Big ever schedule sex? Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele?

Isn’t scheduling sex an overly “logical” solution to something that defies logic – that heady mix of chemistry and desire? (Not to mention about the least romantic way to ensure you have it.)

Evidently not. To give us all a little kick for Valentine’s Day, I reached out to sex therapist Ian Kerner, PhD. According to Kerner, scheduling sex isn’t being type A or taking a business approach. Instead, he says, it’s simply one of the best ways to prioritize intimacy and put it at the top of the list. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: The Zika Virus, Car Seat Safety, How to Heat Up Your Love Life, and More

love

Here’s what Sharecare members are talking about this week:

1. Parents, listen up: Over the past week baby product maker Britax, recalled more than 75,000 car seats due to defective car handles. Learn more about the recall and learn what you can do to keep your child safe.

2. The Zika virus is all over the news, but should you be worried? Watch this video from Dr. Oz to learn about the fast- spreading, mosquito-borne virus, including how it’s transmitted and ways to protect yourself from infection. For more info, check out our Zika Virus Topic Page.

3. Scheduling sex sounds like the unsexiest thing a couple can do — right? Surprisingly, it’s quite the opposite. Find out why from Darria Gillespie, MD and sex therapist Ian Kerner, PhD.

4. Having a spa day may seem like the best way to relieve stress, but there are easier – and cheaper! – ways to feel calm. Watch this video to learn a quick trick that can help take off the pressure.

5. The Presidential race is heating up – and so are the candidates. We tested Sharecare’s new app on the latest Republican debate to measure candidate stress levels. Find out who kept their cool – and who didn’t.

 

Many Parents Respond Incorrectly When Child Passes Out

asian boy kid lying down on white floor like accident or fainting

It can be terrifying when a child passes out, especially because you often don’t know why and whether or not the child is in serious trouble. But losing consciousness is common among children, with about one in six having an episode before they reach adolescence, most of which will be harmless. A new study out this week has surveyed parents to see how many know what do if their child were to lose consciousness. The results show that we could all afford to take a little time to prepare ourselves for when someone around us, related or not, passes out. Read more  »

Slow Medicine for Depression

sad woman sitting alone

If you struggle with depression, chances are that you suffer from any or all of the following: difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, insufficient energy to function, profound sadness, self-isolating tendencies, lack of motivation, loss of appetite, suffocating feelings of doom and gloom, and suicidal thoughts. Your life may in turn be adversely impacted by a profound struggle to care for yourself – including the basics of eating, bathing, and grooming, as well as working, socializing, and engaging in physical activity. You may end up feeling extreme loneliness, isolation, and hopelessness, to the extent that it is a challenge to even think about reaching out for help. Each of these challenges is likely to feed into each other, exacerbating your struggles. They even may create a chain reaction of events that send you spiraling downward, perhaps endangering your very survival. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The Risk of Death After Surgery, Training to Help Maintain Your Balance, and the Fruits You Should Be Eating For Weight Loss

Surgery patients who are frailer have an increased risk of death post-procedure. A recent study reported that frail people aged 65 and older were were most likely to have complications after surgery. “About 3 percent of the 200,000 patients who underwent surgery were frail, based on the diagnoses indicator. These patients were an average age of 77 while nonfrail patients were on average 74. Frail patients more often had high blood pressure and had been hospitalized in the previous year. Within a year of surgery, almost 14 percent of frail patients had died, compared to only about five percent of others.” Researchers in the study urged hospitals to create specific recovery areas to care for frail patients after surgery to reduce deaths in the future. (Reuters)

Small exercises could help decrease the amount of times older people fall. Researchers analyzed a few studies and discovered that step training exercises can potentially decrease the risk of falling by 50 percent. “For fall prevention, elderly people may benefit from exercises designed to help maintain balance during everyday activities like getting out of a chair or avoiding obstacles on a sidewalk…In addition to cutting the rate of falls, step training also helped cut the proportion of fallers across the studies roughly in half…” Walking-based exercises were reported to be the most effective for avoiding falls. (Fox)

Fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids may help stop weight gain. After 24 years of research, a recent study revealed that the makeup of flavonoid-rich foods could assist in maintaining a person’s weight. “The ones that had a biggest impact were anthocyanins, found in dark red foods like blueberries, cherries, grapes and strawberries, and flavonoid polymers, found in tea and apples…Every extra daily standard deviation—a unit that varied by produce type—of flavonoids was associated with 0.16 to 0.23 pounds less weight gained over four years. That might sound small, but in the study, one serving of a fruit often provided more than one standard deviation of a class of flavonoids.” The authors of the study encouraged more flavonoid-filled fruit and vegetable consumption to combat obesity in America. (Time)