Study Shows Sex Is Safe For Heart Patients

For patients suffering from myocardial infarction, a lot of activities that endorsed effort became risky after the diagnosis. However a scientific study encouraged the American Heart Association to announce that sex is safe for heart patients.

On Thursday, a group of doctors talked about one of the most tensioned and significant questions that patients with heart problems have. According to their opinions, if you are healthy enough to walk up two flights of stairs without experiencing chest pain or gasp for breath, then you can enjoy sex too.

Based on the findings of these scientists, the American Heart Association reached the conclusion that having sex only slightly raises the chances for a heart attack. This was the first such recommendation on the subject.

Dr. Glenn Levine, lead author of the report and professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said that there are a lot of patients who worry that sexual activity will cause another heart attack and even sudden death, however they have no issues when it comes to climbing stairs.

“The risk of having a heart attack during sexual activity is two to three times higher than when not having sexual activity”. But, as Levine states this increased risk of heart attack during sexual activity “represents only a very small part of a person’s overall risk of having a heart attack, and sexual activity is the cause of less than 1 percent of all heart attacks”.

Scientists have emphasized that despite the higher risk for a heart patient to have a second attack, there is really no proof that they experience more heart attacks caused by sexual activity than people who don’t suffer from myocardial diseases.

Glenn Levine also pointed out that the connection between sexual activity and cardiac arrest should be discussed by doctors with patients. But, as the doctor points out, that seldom happens because physicians don’t feel comfortable discussing that or they simply lack information.

Researchers and the American Heart Association say that heart patients should check with their doctor and ensure there aren’t other problems that could cause an arrest. In fact, it is recommend they have a doctor’s OK before engaging in sexual activity.

U.S. Obesity Rates Remain High Despite Small Reduction

Obesity has become one of the most costly and significant health conditions in the United States over the last 30 years. During this time, lawmakers and health experts tried hard to reduce the rates and slim down the cases. Recent data shows that in thirty years U.S. obesity rates did not change much, remaining at high levels.

The new data, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that although during three decades the obesity rates in U.S. haven’t changed much, there’s a trend that shows the tendency is stabilizing nationwide. However, there are still spikes among particular demographic groups.

According to many obesity specialists the data are proof enough that all the efforts to address the problem of obesity are working, or at least began to give results. James O. Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, points out that stopping the increase is a very good first step, and thinks of the data as “very positive news”.

“It may suggest our efforts are starting to make a difference. The bad news is we still have obesity rates that are just astronomical”, added James O. Hill.

Historically, during the 1960 through 1980 the obesity rates were not spiking, but the end of the century brought a huge boost. Based on data for 2009 and 2010, available from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese. This means that 78 million people in United States have a body mass index of 30 or greater.

The data shows that a third of adults are overweight. Meanwhile, when it comes to children and teenagers from birth to age 19, 17 percent of them are obese and 32 percent are overweight or obese. Also, severe obesity remains more common in women, despite the fact that more adult men are now overweight or obese.

The problem is that authors “found no indication that the prevalence of obesity is declining in any group”. Cynthia L. Ogden, coauthor and researcher at the CDC, explained that scientists still can’t explain why obesity rates are still on the raise in some groups, while stabilizing in others.

Vitamin D Supplements Useless In COPD Patients

Every now and then, scientists have breakthrough in their research that completely changes or utterly confirms treatments in health care. A recent study shows that vitamin D supplements are useless in COPD patients.

Belgium researchers have conducted a study that showed high-dose vitamin D does not reduce Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations. However, the research also showed that correcting severe deficiency may help.

For COPD patients a vitamin D insufficiency is a common occurrence. According to Medpagetoday, vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for extrapulmonary manifestations of the disease. As a result, vitamin D supplements have been proposed in the treatment for both pulmonary and extrapulmonary manifestations.

Now, the Belgium study shows emphysema and chronic bronchitis (the two main forms of COPD) need more than just sunlight. Dr. Wim Janssens with the respiratory division at University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, told USATODAY: “There are studies showing that patients with vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to different inflammatory, infections and autoimmune diseases, and most likely COPD”.

But, Janssens emphasizes that “vitamin D restoration to normal levels in COPD patients does not reduce the number of exacerbations, does not reduce the infections and inflammation”. But, as researchers say, high-dose vitamin D may be more valuable earlier in the disease course, “consistent with the idea that such milder stages are also more sensitive to disease modification.”

The problem at hand is not to be taken lightly. As Dr. Diane Gold, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, points out, “COPD ranks in the top 10 causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States”.

Gold explains that so far the only therapy that actually improved the condition of a COPD patient was stopping smoking. But that also had limited effect in reducing COPD associated deaths. At the same time, she “does not definitively refute the benefit of vitamin D supplements for reducing COPD exacerbations”.

Researches involved in the study came to the conclusion that they need to perform larger trials with longer follow up an daily vitamin D dosing to truly understand what’s going on.

The study was published in the January 17th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and compiles findings after monitoring 182 patients with moderate to severe COPD.

Gastric Bypass Works Better Than Gastric Banding In Losing Weight

In today’s world one of the most urgent health issues is obesity, a condition that not only is extremely hazardous for bodily functions but for the government’s pockets just as much. Several treatments, diets and routines have been developed to burn fat, but there’s still debate regarding which is more effective. For instance, a recent study shows that the gastric bypass works better than the gastric banding when it comes to losing weight.

The study focuses on seeing which of the two procedures are the most effective. Gastric bypass and gastric banding are two popular procedures in the U.S. employed to limit the amount of food the stomach can hold.

The report, published this Monday in the Archives of Surgery, looked at more than 400 patients in Switzerland, who had undertaken surgery between March 1998 and May 2005. Half of the patients had received a gastric band while the other half had the Roux-en-Y procedure, also known as a common gastric bypass.

The Wall Street Journal writes that the study showed the “gastric bypass is associated with faster and more sustained weight loss than gastric banding”. Researchers found out that six years after undergoing a gastric bypass, patients have recorded a faster and greater weight loss, compared to patients who received a gastric band.

Scientists looked at their patients’ BMI to see how the two medical procedures were improving their lives. BMI stands for Body Mass Index, a criteria which measures the body fat by using a person’s height and weight. Basically, if your BMI is 30 or higher, you are considered obese.

Based on the BMI readings, scientists observed that after starting with patients at an average BMI of about 43, one year after the average BMI in the bypass group dropped below 30, while those in the gastric band group had a BMI of about 34. Meanwhile, cholesterol levels remained constant in patients in the gastric banding group and decreased in patients in the gastric bypass group.

The study also pointed out that “maximum weight loss was achieved after an average of three years for the gastric band patients, compared with 18 months for the bypass group”.

Skin cancer cream to replace plastic surgery

Due to recent researches performed by a prestigious Italian university, a skin cancer cream could be used to replace plastic surgery, says the Associated Press. The treatment was discovered in Italy after multiple tests performed by doctors on more than 1000 patients. The news is very optimistic for skin cancer patients because it enables them to avoid disfiguring surgery; moreover, the cream is painless and side-effect free.

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer at present. Given these circumstances, medical researchers do everything in their power to replace the existing treatment with a more efficient and less painful one.

Although the traditional surgery is very efficient, there are many side effects, such as, disfiguration that patients and doctors would like to avoid. For them, Italian researchers have created a cream containing rhenium-188, that is, a radioactive isotope that could treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma without leaving scars.

The greatest worry of doctors who have to treat various forms of cancer is that healthy cells will be affected and even destroyed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cytostatic agents. Consequently, a lot of efforts have been recently made to introduce medical apparatuses and treatments that function only on ill cells.

The new skin cancer cream is in compliance with all the aforementioned requests. Doctors use a surgical foil to protect the healthy tissues; they apply the paste on the affected skin and remove it after two hours. 95% of the patients have been completely cured after one therapy, whereas 85% needed three treatment sessions.

Dr. Maria Gonzalez from Cardiff University told the press that the new treatment will most likely appeal to certain groups of patients. So far, the cream has been requested by elderly patients with very large tumors, usually placed on the face. They preferred to test the cream because excising the tumors was too risky.

The new therapy has to undergo several other tests in Germany in order to be recognized as genuine. Even so, doctors emphasize that this cream must be regarded as an alternative treatment to the traditional therapies.

Smoking Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Lung Damage

With more and more people using marijuana, researchers decided to take a second look at how this drug actually impacts the body. One of their first researched topics was the risk of lung damage caused by smoking joints. Surprising enough is that researchers found that smoking marijuana doesn’t cause lung damage.

There are so many factors today that impact our lungs that protection against them is simply impossible. Pollution, smoking tobacco and even pool chlorine have the high potential of causing lung damage, still all of these are not marginalized and considered illegal throughout the world’s societies.

Paradoxically, an urban myth has marijuana smokers coughing after lighting up a joint. Researchers show that the reality is different. A new study shows that marijuana smoking doesn’t seem to have any detrimental effects on lung health. The research involved more than 5,000 young adults in Oakland, Chicago and Birmingham.

Dr. Stefan Kertesz from the University of Alabama at Birmingham was involved in the study. He begins his explanation by referring to the Harold & Kumar movies, which show that marijuana smokers cough after inhaling.

He then points out to the previous studies that came up with “mixed results”, stating that “some have hinted at an increase in lung air flow rates and lung volume, and other have not found that. Others have found hints of harm”.

But, despite all of these, the new study had different findings. Kertesz points out that although the fact that the marijuana smoke has a lot of the same toxins as cigarette smoke, the difference lays with the pot users. The fact remains that pot users tend to smoke fewer joints each day than tobacco users smoke cigarettes. Coupled with certain inhaling method, the lungs are protected from toxins in the smoke.

Before switching from tobacco to marijuana, there’s still a warning to consider. Kertesz emphasizes that “marijuana is still an illegal drug, and it has many complicated effects on the human body and its function”.

Plus, “in our findings we see hints of harm in pulmonary function with heavy use, and other studies have shown that marijuana use increases a user’s likelihood of a heart attack” he adds. On top of that, it seems that heavy use of marijuana can impair “the immune system’s ability to fight disease”.

Novartis Recalls Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin and Gas-X Sunday Bottles

Recent news coming from the health care industry have surely made patients worry about the guys in charge of their well-being. A particular significant news should make a lot fret with what their medication bottles actually contain. Novartis decided to recall some Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin and Gas-X Sunday bottles over concerns their contents might include something other than just medication.

Recently, Novartis decided to temporarily suspend production in its Lincoln, Nebraska plant. The company said the output is suspended on account of “maintenance and other improvement activities”. However, soon after that statement, the company announced it had to pull off some bottles of Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin and Gas-X Sunday over concerns the containers could contain pills from other medicines or chipped and broken tablets.

Therefore, some of the bottles of the Excedrin medicine, usually taken for headaches, as well as caffeine caplets NoDoz with expiration dates December 20, 2014 or earlier will be recalled. Certain packages of Bufferin, taken for pain, and Gas-X, meant for stomach issues, having expiration dates of December 20, 2013 or earlier will be recalled.

U.S. consumers are asked to either destroy or return unused product that meet the specifications above. So far, there have been no related adverse reactions reported by consumers. You can find more information on the affected bottle sizes and related expiry dates at www.novartisOTC.com. Throughout the recall procedure, the company will be working closely under the monitoring of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Novartis said it became aware of the problem during an internal review. The company said that they have discovered broken and chipped pills, inconsistent bottle packaging and came to the conclusion that mixed pills in an Excedrin bottle is likely. The company warns:

“Mixing of different products in the same bottle could result in consumers taking the incorrect product and receiving a higher or lower strength than intended or receiving an unintended ingredient”. As a result, overdose or allergic reaction are highly likely to occur.
Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, declared: “We are committed to a single quality standard for the entire Novartis Group and we are making the necessary investments and committing the right resources to ensure these are implemented across our entire network”.

Cholesterol Drugs Increase Risk Of Diabetes In Women

Proof that scientists still haven’t figured out the human body system properly are numerous studies that show, paradoxically, the drugs we take to improve our health are actually damaging us. A recent study shows that cholesterol drugs have the power to increase the risk of diabetes.

News that some drug is actually making you more vulnerable than improving your health can really make one forget about prescription medications. What’s the point of trying to have a healthier body by taking a drug that’s actually increasing the chances of getting ill. In this case, statins based cholesterol drugs have been proved to increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that women using any kind of stating at the start of the investigation were nearly 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those not taking such drugs.

Yusheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester took part in the study. He wrote: “Statin medication use in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk for diabetes mellitus”. He also warns that “the statin should not be seen as the magic pill”.

Yusheng Ma and his colleagues investigated data from more than 150,000 diabetes-free women in their 50s, 60s and 70s. The study started in mid 1990s with women patients filling out health questionnaires related to the use of statins and diabetes risks. During the study, over 10,200 women taking any kind of statin developed diabetes. The ratio is staggering enough:  one in 14 women involved in the study had 48 percent chances of developing diabetes, than those not taking statins.

The trouble is that statins are one of the most widely prescribed drugs and have been proved to significantly lower the bad cholesterol levels in the blood. The conflict arises when looking at studies that show this drug does save lives.

Dr. Steven Nissen, cardiology chairman at the Cleveland Clinic, told ABC News: “What I fear here is that people who need and will benefit from statins will be scared off of using the drugs because of reports like this”. He added: “We don’t want these drugs in the water supply, but we want the right people treated. When they are, this effect is not a significant limitation”.

Broken Heart And Myocardial Infarction Are Connected

Although the common advice when it comes to a broken heart is to give it time and time will heal it, scientists say this treatment might not be enough. According to a recent study, broken heart and myocardial Infarction are connected.

According to a research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, a broken heart is more than just a matter of speech. Grief might actually get you killed. Called the Determinants of MI Onset Study, the research looked at charts and had interviews with patients while in the hospital after a confirmed heart attack between 1989 and 1994.

The Determinants of MI Onset Study showed that people mourning a close relative are 21 times more likely to suffer a heart attack themselves within the first day after that person’s death. The risks reduce, but within the first week, they still remain as high as almost six times than what’s normal.

The study has also showed that increased risk of heart attack within the first week after the death of a significant person will vary from one per 320 people with a high heart attack risk to one per 1,394 people with a low heart attack risk.

Scientists explain that grief affects the body in a significant way. The psychological stress, lack of sleep and forgetting to take medication according to schedule can increase heart rare, blood pressure as well as blood clotting. All of these are factors that raise the risks of suffering a heart attack.

Doctor Murray Mittleman, a preventive cardiologist and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, explained: “Caretakers, healthcare providers, and the bereaved themselves need to recognise they are in a period of heightened risk in the days and weeks after hearing of someone close dying”.

Mittleman warns that “during situations of extreme grief and psychological distress, you still need to take care of yourself and seek medical attention for symptoms associated with a heart attack”.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, lead author of the study, said that “friends and family of bereaved people should provide close support to help prevent such incidents, especially near the beginning of the grieving process”.

Study Shows Depression Is Linked To Lack Of Vitamin D

These days, trying to keep a healthy style of life is probably one of the biggest challenges ever. Although a lot of people still don’t look at depression as a health condition, it is the sort of illness that affects a staggering number of people. The worst part is that not even scientists are fully aware of the factors that can cause depression. But, one step at a time, the scientists will crack this too. A recent study shows that depression is linked to the lack of vitamin D.

The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, shows that there is a strong correlation between depression and low levels of vitamin D. UT Southwestern Medical Center psychiatrists have started the largest investigation on the matter with the help of the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study. Their findings may put an end to all the conflictual results previous studies have showed.

Dr. E. Sherwood Brown, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study, declared: “Our findings suggest that screening for vitamin D levels in depressed patients – and perhaps screening for depression in people with low vitamin D levels – might be useful”. However, despite their findings so far, these scientists say they “don’t have enough information yet to recommend going out and taking supplements”.

The fact is that although they have noticed a correlation, scientists still have not determined the exact relationship. The uncertainty is linked to whether low vitamin D contributes to depression, or whether the depression affects the level of vitamin D in the body, by reducing it.

One thing is for sure, according to Dr. Brown. Vitamin D has the potential to affect neurotransmitters and inflammatory markers. So far, the levels of vitamin D in the body have been showed to be risk factors in autoimmune and infectious diseases, diabetes, several cancers, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as general cognitive decline.

The study has examined the results of 12,600 participants from late 2006 to late 2010.  The main result is that higher vitamin D levels tend to be linked to a significant decreased risk of depression.

Depression and vitamin D deficiency is a topic that has initiated a lot of debates over the past few years, so finally sorting that out will be an important breakthrough in medicine today.