Best Approach for Common Female Surgery Still Up for Debate

doctor-patient

Giving birth is often a painful, arduous, and exhausting experience, but women can also experience other medical issues as a result of all that pelvic stress as they get older. One of those problems is pelvic prolapse, which affects a significant number of women who have given birth. While there are many options for surgery to fix the problem, figuring out which one is best can be a tough call for surgeons and their patients. A team of physicians and researchers combed through the research on these two procedures and published their findings to help doctors and women make better decisions about which option might be right for them. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The Effects of Exercise on the Brain, the Link Between Concussions and Suicide, and How Education May Improve Dementia Statistics

Middle-aged people who do not frequently exercise may have lower brain volume over time. Brains shrink as they age and this fact may be unavoidable. However, recent research suggests certain things can speed up the shrinking: “the new findings add inactivity to a growing list of factors like smoking, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure that are thought to accelerate the process… The study included 1,583 people enrolled in the long-running Framingham Heart Study who took a treadmill test to assess their fitness levels…two decades later, people with below average fitness in the first test had smaller total brain volume than the others. Each 8 mL/kg/min of exercise capacity below the average performance level in the first test was associated with enough reduction in brain volume by the end of the study to amount to two extra years of brain aging, according to the results in Neurology.” The study urged older people to start to exercise—at least 2-3 hours per week—to prevent any rapid aging. (Fox)

Concussions could increase the likelihood of suicide. While brain trauma has always been considered one of the symptoms of suicide risk, concussions have recently been added as a risk factor. “The suicide rate in Ontario, Canada, where the study was conducted, is approximately nine per 100,000 people, according to the study. In the U.S. as a whole, it’s about 12 per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study conducted in Ontario gathered information on 235,110 individuals who had a history of concussion over a 20-year period, from 1992 to 2012. In the group there were 667 subsequent suicides — equivalent to 31 deaths per 100,000 people, or three times the suicide rate in the population as a whole, researchers found.” Risk increased exponentially with the increase number of concussions a person had. (ABC)

The risk of dementia could be correlated to education. A new study has shown that having a high school education, among other factors, may delay dementia. “The study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, provides the strongest evidence to date that a more educated population and better cardiovascular health are contributing to a decline in new dementia cases over time, or at least helping more people stave off dementia for longer.” More research needs to be done, however, since this study was only performed in one suburban area with a small population that was mostly of the same race. (NYT)

Today’s Headlines: The New Bacteria Behind Lyme Disease, the Importance of Sighing, and the Relationship Between Exercise and Menopause

A new bacterium has been discovered that can carry Lyme disease. This bacterium comes from the same type of deer tick as the more commonly known Borrelia burgdorferi but does not always carry the same symptoms. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the Mayo Clinic and health officials from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota said in a press release Monday that the bacteria Borrelia mayonii, as well as the previously known bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, can cause Lyme disease…If treated early with antibiotics, its early symptoms of fever, headache and fatigue can pass after two to four weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. The CDC said in the release that the newly discovered bacteria is associated with those symptoms plus nausea and vomiting, as well as diffuse rashes and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood. The first-discovered bacteria were associated with a rash that forms a ‘bull’s eye’ shape.” Currently the CDC believes the new bacteria are only in the Midwest. (Fox)

Sighing is an important movement for lung function. New research stresses not only the importance of sighing, but also where the reflex happens in the brain. “Most humans heave an involuntary sigh an average of 12 times an hour…These types of sighs are not related to emotion…Instead, they provide an extra gust of air that helps to re-inflate some of the 500 million tiny balloon-like sacs in our lungs called alveoli…[The]…part of the brain, called the pre-Bötzinger complex, is well known as the core of the breathing control center of the body. The new work could help scientists develop drugs that can induce sighing in people who don’t naturally sigh enough, or be used to inhibit sighs in those who suffer anxiety and other psychological disorders that can lead to too much sighing.” Researchers now want to look into other parts of the brain that might be affected by stress or emotion. (LA Times)

Exercise may help reduce hot flashes. A new study found that exercise was likely correlated to the symptoms women experience during menopause. “Standardized scales that rated menopause symptoms showed that sedentary women, compared with active women — who did exercise three or more times a week — had more symptoms overall, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, bladder problems and joint pain. They were also more likely to have more-severe menopause symptoms, including insomnia and depression.” The study encourages middle-aged women to make exercise a part of their daily routines in order to help them in the long run. (Washington Post)

BPA Replacement Has Similar Effects, Risks Still Unclear

water bottle lids blurred

Concern in recent years about the health effects of bisphenol A (BPA) have driven the chemical out of many of the plastic goods we use on a daily basis. But while you might not find BPA in new plastic bottles, bowls, or cans, those products have often switched to a similar chemical with similar properties to get the job done. Many companies have turned to bisphenol S (BPS) to fill the hole left by BPA. New research out this week calls into question how different BPS is from BPA in terms of health effects and gives readers pause to think how meaningful that “BPA-free” label really is. Read more  »

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)

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)

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  »

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)

American Heart Association Emphasizes Dangers of Heart Attacks in Women

High resolution man drawing chart heartbeat

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the U.S., but women are often left out of conversations about heart health. Heart disease and heart attacks have traditionally been thought of as a disease of men and the typical symptoms of a heart attack are, as a result, mostly the ones men experience. But in recent years the medical community has started to realize that this male bias may be doing a serious disservice to women. For the first time in its history, the American Heart Association (AHA) has released a scientific statement on heart attacks in women to bring together what we know about heart disease in women and how the medical community can move forward in preventing this deadly illness. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Why You Can Drink Coffee Without Worrying About a Heart Condition, Why Fat on Your Body is Toxic to Your Health, and How Healthy Fats Can Improve Heart Health

The theory that caffeine causes heart palpitations seems to have been disproven. A new study that was released stated that contrary to popular belief, caffeinated teas and coffees are not correlated with irregular heartbeats or any other heart issues. “[Researchers] examined 1,388 people, with an average age of 72, taking part in a larger heart study. About 60 percent said they drank some sort of caffeinated product every day. The team looked specifically at coffee, tea and chocolate and did not ask about super-caffeinated energy drinks. They measured instances of premature ventricular contractions and premature atrial contractions. They could not find any differences in instances of these heart disturbances, no matter how much coffee or tea or chocolate people had.” The researchers stressed that this study was only on specific caffeinated beverage effects on adults: children should not drink any caffeine and caffeinated powders have been proven to be exceedingly dangerous. (NBC)

A study has shown that additional body fat, regardless of how fit a person is, can be dangerous and hazardous to health. In the past a little extra weight wasn’t considered harmful. Now, researchers are retracting those statements. “These results are backed by a prior study published in January 2015 that identified a link between increased levels of fat in the body — regardless of physical fitness — and high levels of inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of all disease, especially chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Another study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research in 2015 observed a correlation between increased levels of white fat tissue and poorer prognosis in early-stage breast cancer.” The best solution seems to be a whole-foods diet and exercise that will help you lose any unwanted fat — particularly fat concentrated around the stomach area. (Fox)

Eating healthy fats, like olive oil and nuts, may lower the risk of heart disease. A recent study has shown that low consumption of healthy fats may contribute to heart disease. “Eating too little vegetable oils contributes to more heart-related deaths than eating saturated fats. In fact, only 3.6% of global heart deaths can be attributed to eating too much saturated fat, while just over 10% of heart deaths can be traced to eating too little plant oils…[but dietary guidelines] continue to stress limiting saturated fats rather than increasing healthy fats…but history shows that when people lower the amount of saturated fat they eat, they tend to replace it with carbohydrates, which can turn into triglycerides and get stored as fat.” Instead of replacing saturated fats with carbs, researchers suggested increasing consumption of healthy fats like fish, nuts, and vegetables for a healthier heart. (Time)