DOACs now recommended over warfarin to prevent blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation
For decades, warfarin (Coumadin) was the standard anticoagulant medication used to prevent blood clots, which can lead to stroke, in people with atrial fibrillation (afib). Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs), sometimes called novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs), are a new type of anticoagulant medication that came on the market in 2010. In 2019, the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology/Heart Rhythm Society (AHA/ACC/HRS) updated their afib guidelines to strongly recommend using DOACs over warfarin in people with afib. Warfarin is effective, but has downsides Afib is a condition in which the upper chambers...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Zimetbaum, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Weight loss surgery for children and teens struggling with obesity
Right now, one in 12 children and adolescents in the US are severely obese. If that isn’t startling enough, consider this: among 12-to-15-year-olds, that number jumps to one in 10 — and among 16-to-19-year-olds, it is one in seven. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the best hope for many of these youths may be bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is surgery that helps with weight loss by making the stomach smaller and making other changes in the digestive system. It’s jarring to think about doing irreversible surgery on an adolescent — or a child, as the AAP discourages age limi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Parenting Source Type: blogs

Lasmiditan: New first-in-class drug treatment approved for migraine
Migraine is a huge medical problem, accounting for half of the disability produced by all neurologic diseases worldwide. The medication sumatriptan (Imitrex) is well known for the treatment of a migraine attack. Sumatriptan is part of a group of medications known as the triptans. Triptan medications have been in use for over 20 years and are very effective for the acute treatment of headache (relieving migraine headaches that are already in progress). But they also have limitations; triptans can cause temporary narrowing of blood vessels in the heart and elsewhere that can result in side effects, such as chest pain or tigh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul Rizzoli, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Headache Health Source Type: blogs

Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise: Should you worry?
In 2018, the number of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported in the United States reached an all-time high. This is worrisome for many reasons. Having an STI can raise risks for HIV, infertility, pregnancy complications, and infant death. Fortunately, all of these outcomes can be avoided if people receive appropriate treatment. What are STIs? STIs are illnesses caused by microorganisms passed between people during sex. An STI can affect anyone who is exposed to it. Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common bacterial infections. Trichomoniasis, a protozoan infection, is also diagnosed freque...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eric A. Meyerowitz, MD Tags: Adolescent health HIV Men's Health Relationships Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Trouble with crossword puzzles? Improve your semantic memory
Can you distinguish the taste of a red wine versus a rosé? How about the look of a 1960s muscle car versus a foreign import? Do you prefer to grow lilies or tulips? Would you rather listen to Dark Side of the Moon or “Fly Me to the Moon”? To answer any of these questions, you need to use your semantic memory. Your semantic memory is your store of factual knowledge of the world and the meaning of words. It’s how you know that a fork is for eating (not twirling your hair) and what color a lion is. It’s both the source of your vocabulary and how you know what something does even if you don&rsquo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Brain and cognitive health Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

Medications as effective as stents for most with coronary artery disease
This study suggests that for most, managing CAD with medications alone (the conservative approach) is as safe and effective as the more invasive strategy of cardiac catheterization and opening of the blocked artery. Findings of the ISCHEMIA trial ISCHEMIA followed over 5,000 patients with significant narrowing in one or more coronary arteries. Half of the patients were randomly selected to receive conservative treatment with optimal medical therapy (OMT) and lifestyle changes to treat risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The other half were given OMT and also sent for cardiac catheterization (thre...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Got children? How to get out the door on time
Despite valiant planning efforts and repeated requests, your children are half-dressed. They made the house look like a category F5 tornado came through, and are nowhere near ready to go when you need to get out the door. You can feel your temperature rising as the clock ticks toward late again. If this sounds familiar, below are some helpful tools. Consider building these strategies into your routine to help you get out the door on time with fully-dressed children in tow. Practicing dry runs of the strategies below with younger children can help prepare you for when you need to leave the house on time in the future. Make ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Psoriasis and cancer: What ’s the link?
This study does not go into detail about the extent to which these comorbidities may influence the increased risk of cancer in psoriasis patients. People with severe psoriasis often do not get enough relief with topical therapies (ones applied to the skin), such as topical corticosteroids and vitamin D analogues. They may then be started on medications that target specific immune cells and proteins. Some of these medications increase the risk of infections. Previous studies have found little to no increased risk of cancer in patients receiving these therapies. Other treatments, such as phototherapy (light therapy), are kno...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dominic Wu, MD Tags: Cancer Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

The complicated relationship between fish oil and heart health
For nearly two decades, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that people with coronary heart disease (CHD) consume omega-3-fatty acids (the kinds of fatty acids found in fish and fish oil) to prevent another heart attack. This recommendation was based on early randomized, controlled trials, which found that fish oil supplementation was associated with lower rates of stroke, heart attack, and death in people who already had heart disease. On the other hand, the impact of fish oil supplements on preventing a first heart attack or stroke (primary prevention) was never clearly demonstrated. Recently there have ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Can monitoring blood pressure at home cut maternal mortality?
Worldwide, hypertension (high blood pressure) and complications that stem from it are the second leading cause of maternal mortality. In fact, it causes about one in six maternal deaths. Among pregnant women in the US, rates of both chronic high blood pressure and pregnancy-related high blood pressure are rising. One reason this is worrisome is that high blood pressure is a major factor in preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition that may affect women late in pregnancy and in the early weeks after birth. Now a study in Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that a team approach to monitoring blood pressure at hom...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Health Hypertension and Stroke Parenting Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Most men can hold off on radiation after prostate cancer surgery
Decisions about follow-up care after prostate cancer surgery sometimes involve a basic choice. If the cancer had features that predict it could return, doctors will likely recommend radiation therapy. But when should a man get that treatment? Should he get the radiation right away, even if there’s no evidence of cancer in the body (this is called adjuvant radiation)? Or should he opt for “salvage” radiation, which is given only if his blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) begin to climb? Since prostate cancer cells release PSA, the levels should be nondetectable after surgery. If they increase, ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

How to talk to children about the serious illness of a loved one
It’s an inescapable truth: sometimes hard, bad things happen in life — including that sometimes parents, or other important people in a child’s life, get very sick. It’s natural to want to shield a child from news like this, but that’s not a good idea. Children pick up on more than people realize — and can sometimes imagine things to be even worse than they are. Also, it’s important to help children gain the understanding and skills they need to weather a loved one’s illness, as well as to weather the inevitable difficult times in their future. Talking to a child about seriou...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Could white-coat hypertension harm your heart?
For most people, going to the doctor is usually a bit nerve-racking. But for some, the stress of a medical appointment triggers a temporary rise in blood pressure. If that’s the case for you — and if your blood pressure is normal at home and in other nonmedical settings — you may have what’s known as white-coat hypertension. Now, a large study suggests that people with this condition face a greater threat of heart disease than people whose blood pressure readings are always normal. According to current guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, normal bloo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Will a purpose-driven life help you live longer?
In this study, having more life purpose was associated with a lower rate of death during the study period overall, from cardiovascular disease and blood conditions, and also from digestive conditions. However, stronger life purpose didn’t appear to insulate study participants from all health conditions. Researchers did not find an effect on death rates from cancer, tumors, or conditions that affected the respiratory tract. It’s also important to note that the study didn’t prove that having a life purpose resulted in the lower death rates seen in the study. “This was a well-done observational study. ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Aging Men's Health Relationships Women's Health Source Type: blogs

A clue to a cure for Alzheimer ’s disease
Are you worried about Alzheimer’s disease? Does one of your parents or siblings have the disease? If so, your risks are between two and four times that of the general public. What about people without a family history of the disease? Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for it. By age 85, half of you reading this article today will have developed Alzheimer’s disease, with or without a family history. Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? I’m writing today to give you some good news. A new study from the lab of Harvard researcher Yakeel Quiroz, PhD, has suggested a new target for drugs that might have the p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Genes Health Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

Living with Crohn ’s disease: Recognizing and managing flares
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Together with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s is one of the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s affects approximately 500,000 Americans and is a chronic, lifelong condition that typically alternates between periods of relatively stable or absent symptoms (remission) and periods of symptom flare-ups that can last for days, weeks, or even months. The goal of treatment is to induce remission and then to maximize the chance that patients stay in remission. However, almost everyone with Croh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Garber, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Yes, you can avoid weight gain over the holidays!
The holidays are a time when family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company — and eat! Indulgent meals, bountiful buffets, cookie swaps, holiday parties… it’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy weight can present even more challenges during the holidays than throughout the rest of the year. Each year, on average, we tend to gain a small amount of weight (about one pound per year). According to some research, most of that weight is gained over the holiday season. Study suggests you can control holiday weight gain Does that mean we are destined to see a bigger number when we step on the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Darolutamide approved for nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
Sometimes after finishing prostate cancer treatment, men get an unwelcome surprise: their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels creep higher, suggesting tumors too small to be seen lurk somewhere in the body. This leads to several options. Doctors can continue to monitor a man’s condition with imaging scans. Or, given the anxiety associated with rising PSA, they might try to lower the levels with chemically “castrating” drugs that inhibit testosterone, a hormone that makes prostate tumors grow faster. Following that treatment, called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), PSA generally declines and may beco...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A fibromyalgia treatment ( “But you look so good!”)
It’s something I’ve heard countless times from patients with fibromyalgia. They’re telling a friend or family member about their condition and the response is, “But you don’t look sick” or “But you look so well.” Sometimes, the reaction is more of an eye roll or some other response that reflects skepticism that the problem is even “real.” Those are issues addressed head-on in a TV ad for Lyrica (pregabalin), a treatment for fibromyalgia. “To most people, I look like most people,” a woman says. “But on the inside I feel chronic, widespread pain.&r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Fatigue Pain Management Source Type: blogs

A look at the effects of nail polish on nail health and safety
In recent years, the nail polish industry has been transformed by the development of longer-lasting polish techniques. As dermatologists, we are often asked about the effects of these various products on nails. Here we review the main types of polish, and consider the pros and cons of each with an eye toward nail health and safety. Traditional nail polish Classic nail polish is painted onto the nail plate, usually in multiple coats, and then air-dried. Conventional nail polish is a polymer dissolved in a solvent. During the drying process, the solvent evaporates, and the polymer hardens. “Hybrid” polish is simi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Janelle Nassim, MD Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Suffering from “chemo brain”? There’s hope and many things you can do
Some of the most common symptoms experienced by cancer patients are memory problems, difficulties with multitasking, and reduced attention and concentration. Historically, cancer patients with these symptoms were often diagnosed with depression. Research over the past decade has revealed that many cancer patients experience such symptoms as a consequence of specific damage to the brain caused by either their tumor or their treatment. While radiation to the brain has long been linked to causing cognitive difficulties, the effects of chemotherapy on brain structure and function have only recently been discovered. We now know...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jorg Dietrich, MD, PhD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Cancer Memory Radiation Source Type: blogs

Benefits of incorporating more aerobic activity into stroke rehabilitation
After a stroke, the main goal is to get back home and be as independent as possible. To achieve that goal, most stroke rehabilitation centers focus on helping people to regain lost function, such as the inability to use a hand, to speak, to swallow, or to walk. A great deal of effort is put into functional recovery so that the patient can go home safely and adequately perform activities of daily living (ADLs). There is little effort put into aerobic exercise and conditioning in most stroke rehabilitation programs. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA)...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

Why are women using CBD products — and do they work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and other products containing CBD are being touted as a natural, organic remedy for a wide range of women’s health concerns. Sellers of these products make many claims: CBD has calming effects on sleep, mood, and anxiety; eases hot flashes and improves bone density by balancing hormonal changes of menopause; and has anti-inflammatory properties that clear skin, cure acne, and calm rosacea. It’s promoted for PMS symptoms like bloating and mood swings. And CBD-infused lubricants claim to boost arousal and enjoyment of sex. So, how much of this is true? First, what is CBD? CBD is a major ingr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Rose McKeon Olson, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Health Marijuana Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Think your child has ADHD? What your pediatrician can — and should — do
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood. It affects approximately 7% to 8% of all children and youth in the US. As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) pointed out in their recent clinical practice guideline for ADHD, that’s more than the mental health system can handle, which means that pediatricians need to step up and help out. So, if your child is having problems with attention, focus, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or some combination of those, and is at least 4 years old, your first step should be an appointment with your child’s primary...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Neurological conditions Parenting Source Type: blogs

Chronic fatigue syndrome: Gradually figuring out what ’s wrong
In 1983, a health professional in her 30s walked into my office and said, “I’ve been healthy all of my life. A year ago, I came down with some kind of virus — sore throat, aching muscles, swollen lymph glands, fever. My fatigue was so bad I was in bed for nearly a week. Many of the symptoms gradually improved, but the terrible fatigue and difficulty thinking have not gotten better. They’re so bad I can’t fulfill my responsibilities at home or at work. This illness is affecting my brain, stealing my energy, and affecting my immune system. It’s keeping me from realizing my dreams.” T...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Anthony Komaroff, MD Tags: Fatigue Health Source Type: blogs

Straight talk on planking
The best exercise I do only takes a minute. Granted, it is often the longest and most grueling 60 seconds of my life. I sweat, I shake, and I often collapse in relief when it’s over. But spending quality time in a plank pose always pays off. The plank pose is where you hold a push-up position while resting on your forearms. This simple move is the ideal exercise for strengthening crucial core muscles. As you go about your day, almost every move you make revolves around your core — from picking up items on the floor to twisting to see if the coast is clear when driving. Why is it important to have a strong core?...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Back Pain Exercise and Fitness Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is the most common type of arthritis. Usually, it occurs among people of advanced age. But it can begin in middle age or even sooner, especially if there’s been an injury to the joint. While there are treatments available — exercise, braces or canes, loss of excess weight, various pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines — these are no cures, and none of the treatments are predictably effective. In fact, often they don’t work at all, or help only a little. Injected steroids or synthetic lubricants can be tried as well. When all else fails, jo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Complementary and alternative medicine Pain Management Source Type: blogs

What is palliative care, and who can benefit from it?
The American population is getting older and sicker. More Americans are facing life-threatening illness when approaching end of life. Palliative care has grown to meet the complex needs of this population. And yet, according to a 2017 article in the journal Palliative Care, many people living with a chronic life-threatening illness either do not receive any palliative care, or receive services only in the last phase of their illness. The National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care also addressed this issue, stating that a goal of their recently updated guidelines is “to improve...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ashwini Bapat, MD Tags: Caregiving End of life Pain Management Source Type: blogs

HPV and cancer: The underappreciated connection
Did you know that a viral infection can lead to a number of different types of cancer? If that comes as a surprise to you, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a new study, many people have no idea that a common viral infection called human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cancer of the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat, as well as cervical cancer. Viral infections and cancer The connection between certain viral infections and cancer has been recognized for many years. Some of the most well-established examples include hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and human papillomavirus (HPV). One thing these ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Adolescent health Cancer Infectious diseases Men's Health Sexual Conditions Vaccines Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Stopping the vicious cycle of rebound headaches
Rebound headaches, also known as medication overuse headaches, are caused by the frequent or excessive use of pain-relieving and/or antimigraine drugs to treat headache attacks that are already in progress. (Note that these are not the same as oral prophylactic or preventive medicines, which should be taken daily.) In other words, the same medications that initially relieve headache pain can themselves trigger subsequent headaches if they are used too often. Medication overuse headaches can be disabling, forcing people with this condition to take sick leave and to be less productive at work and home. To be diagnosed with m...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sait Ashina, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Headache Health Source Type: blogs

In defense of the salt shaker
Sherry B, a healthy and active 61-year-old woman, came to my office several months ago. She had noted an unusually fast heart rate during exercise, and felt lightheaded when standing in line at the grocery store or after finishing her five-mile run. She carried a water bottle with her and drank from it throughout our meeting. “I don’t understand!” she said, “I’m always thirsty, even though I drink water constantly.” Most of her symptoms had started the previous year when she decided to “clean up” her lifestyle, began to exercise more regularly, and stopped eating out. She add...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD Tags: Healthy Eating Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

How to foster independence in children
As a parent, you often may feel like a superhuman circus act as you help bathe, dress, feed, teach, console, and do a multitude of additional tasks for children who seem to have an endless supply of needs. You may feel exhausted by all of the demands, but it also can be rewarding to feel needed. “They only are so small for so long,” you may think, “so I’ll just do this for now.” Hold that thought for a moment. Remember that one of your roles as a parent is to prepare your child for an independent, self-sufficient life. If you find that you often step in quickly to help, you may inadvertently c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Bad flu season predicted — did you get your shot?
What can we expect from the flu season this year? Unfortunately, many experts are predicting an active, and possibly severe, flu season. This projection is based on data from Australia, where the flu season is just wrapping up. Australia was hit early and hard by flu this year: over 300,000 patients had laboratory-confirmed influenza, a record number of cases. Flu outbreaks in the Southern Hemisphere happen during our summers, and they often give us a clue as to what we should expect when the flu lands on our shores in the fall. Who should get the flu vaccine? Basically, everybody over the age of 6 months, except for those...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Cold and Flu Health Prevention Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Lifestyle changes to lower heart disease risk
Nearly half of all premature deaths may be due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as insufficient exercise, poor diet, and smoking. These risk factors increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. The good news is that lifestyle changes can make a difference. In a study analyzing over 55,000 people, those with favorable lifestyle habits such as not smoking, not being obese, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet lowered their heart disease risk by nearly 50%. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recently published guide...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Yeh, MD, MPH Tags: Alcohol Diabetes Exercise and Fitness Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Vaping: It ’s hard to quit, but help is available
E-cigarettes burst onto the scene in the 2010s and were quickly embraced by the public as a solution to the problem of smoking, even heralded by former Surgeon General Richard Carmona as having “very meaningful harm reduction potential” for adult smokers. Astonishingly, e-cigarette manufacturers were never required to demonstrate that their devices were safe, or even safer than combustible cigarettes — the idea that a product could be more health-harming than tobacco seemed so unfathomable as to be not worthy of serious consideration. Fast forward a decade and a lot has happened The e-cigarette industry c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Lung disease Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Plant-based diets are best … or are they?
This study is also a reminder that the health impact of a particular intervention (such as diet) may not be easy to predict or explain. In most cases, the risk of stroke and heart disease tend to rise or fall together, but that wasn’t the case in this research. Beware the study’s limitations This study linking a vegetarian diet with a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke has a number of important limitations that should temper the concerns of vegetarians. The study was observational. That means it simply observed what happened among different people who followed different diets over time, without being able to ac...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 31, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Healthy Eating Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

Which is better for reading to your toddler: Print or ebooks?
As we move more and more into a digital age, we use our devices for communication, news, information, games, and so much more. So, it’s natural to reach for a tablet when it comes time to read our child a story. After all, a book is a book, whether it’s print or electronic, right? Yes — and no. According to a study published in JAMA, there was an observable difference in interactions when parents read their toddlers books on a tablet instead of a print book. The toddlers were less interested and more likely to turn away. In general, they were less engaged. This is important, because engagement is key for ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Bisexuality and health: The cost of invisibility
On September 23, 2019, the 20th anniversary of Bi Visibility Day, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held its first-ever bisexual health research workshop. As an invited panelist at this event, sponsored by the NIH’s Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office, I joined 19 other researchers to discuss key findings, gaps in knowledge, and future directions. You may be asking yourself: Is there really a need for this workshop? How is bisexual health different from the health of other groups? How many people even identify as bisexual? What is bisexuality? Robyn Ochs, a prominent bisexual activist and writer, defines...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sabra Katz-Wise, PhD Tags: Adolescent health Relationships Sex Stress Source Type: blogs

Hope and caution during infertility treatment
Many years ago, I worked for a reproductive endocrinologist who hosted a yearly gathering of former patients. It was there that I encountered a woman holding infant twin daughters. When I congratulated her on her twins, she had these thoughts to share: “I’m a psychiatrist and I hope you’ll pass this on. Please tell people not to worry about being positive and hopeful. I abandoned hope and went through my last IVF cycle as the queen of negativity.” Then she held up her twins and said, “And this is what I got. Please reassure people that they don’t have to stay positive.” Over the ye...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Think your child might have a disability or developmental delay? Take these steps
While we all want our children not to have any problems at all, the reality is that life doesn’t always work that way. Many children suffer from some sort of problem, whether it’s something minor and often temporary, like a speech delay, or something more difficult and permanent, like cerebral palsy or autism. Children with problems or disabilities are no less wonderful and deserving than children without. The key to getting them on the right path for the best life possible is identifying those problems and getting help — as early as possible. That’s why it’s important to speak up early. Somet...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can exercise help treat anxiety?
Chances are good that you, or someone you know, is dealing with anxiety. One in five Americans over 18, and one in three teenagers 13 to 18, reported having a chronic anxiety disorder during the past year. And when I talk to college students, they’re not at all surprised that a whopping 63% of students felt tremendous anxiety during their freshman year, according to a report by the National College Health Association. The toll of anxiety can be high: it increases a person’s risk for other psychiatric disorders like depression, and can contribute to diabetes and cardiovascular problems. One sobering study shows ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 24, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John J. Ratey, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Exercise and Fitness Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Making young minds resilient to disasters
As a pediatrician and a parent, I often think about what I’d do to keep my children safe if we were hit by a storm like Hurricane Dorian, which reduced whole towns in the Bahamas to rubble. Or by a wildfire, like the Camp Fire that burned the town of Paradise, California to the ground. Or how we’d deal with this year’s record-breaking rains that flooded scores of towns throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Disasters like these — which may be getting more dangerous with climate change — can directly harm a child’s body. But what’s less well appreciated is how they can harm our chi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH Tags: Anxiety and Depression Children's Health Environmental health Source Type: blogs

Preventing falls in older adults: Multiple strategies are better
Despite considerable research and clinical effort, falls among people 65 and older are on the rise. An older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, with injuries ranging from simple cuts and bruises to broken bones. Hip fractures are the most serious injury from falls, and more than half of older adults hospitalized for hip fractures after a fall never regain their previous levels of mobility or quality of life. Further, falls are a leading cause of death among older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an older adult dies from a fall every 19 minutes. Despite th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Brad Manor, PhD Tags: Caregiving Health Healthy Aging Injuries Safety Source Type: blogs

Is it time to stop skimming over full-fat dairy?
Americans consume about 150 pounds of milk and eat nearly 40 pounds of cheese and 20 pounds of ice cream per person per year, according to data from the Department of Agriculture. Yogurt and butter intakes are lower, but growing. But should the dairy we’re consuming be low-fat or full-fat? That debate has become increasingly divisive, and for good reason: not all dairy is created equal. Dairy fat and cardiovascular disease Some of the most substantial dairy research has been done in the context of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which has been shown, among other benefits, to reduce blood pres...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN Tags: Cancer Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Recurrent headaches in children: What to know and do
Headaches are very common in children. By the time they reach 18, essentially all kids will have had at least one. Most children get them rarely, usually with an illness. But some children get recurrent headaches. About 5% of kindergartners experience this problem, and the percentage goes up as children get older. By the time they get to the end of high school, that number is up to more than 25%. Recurrent headaches often run in families. There are two types: primary and secondary. Primary headaches come from the nervous system itself, while secondary headaches are caused by something affecting the nervous system, such as ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Headache Source Type: blogs

Is there really a blood test to diagnose concussion?
In the past year and a half, various news stories may have led some people to believe that there are blood tests that can diagnose or unmask concussions with a single drop of blood. For individuals who have recently received a bump, hit, or jolt to the head and are wondering if they have sustained a concussion, this may sound like a simple way to find out. Unfortunately, for now it probably isn’t. What do these blood tests actually do? Simply put, these tests measure substances, such as proteins and enzymes, that are released into the blood within hours of a brain injury when there is intracranial damage (including b...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eve Valera, PhD Tags: Concussions Memory Neurological conditions Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

If you are happy and you know it … you may live longer
Plenty of research suggests optimistic people have a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and declines in lung capacity and function. Optimism is also associated with a lower risk of early death from cancer and infection. And now a new study links optimism to living a longer life. What does this new research on optimism tell us? The study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who had higher levels of optimism had a longer life span. They also had a greater chance of living past age 85. The researchers analyzed data gleaned from two large population studies: about 70,000 women from the Nurse...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Aging Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new treatment for knee arthritis
The TV ad promises pain relief for knee osteoarthritis, the source of most of the 600,000 knee replacement surgeries performed in the US each year. A man in a bowling alley winces with pain. He nearly falls as he rolls a ball into the gutter. (Did I mention the arrow sticking out of his knee?) “Knee acting up again?” asks his buddy, clearly concerned. When pain pills don’t seem to help, his buddy suggests a procedure called Coolief for knee osteoarthritis. “I had it done six months ago,” says the bowling buddy. “And the best part is that it lasts up to one year.” What is Coolief? C...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Osteoarthritis Pain Management Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections are on the rise
There is a global crisis of antibiotic resistance, and urinary tract infections (UTIs) may be the canary in the coal mine. UTIs are one of the most common types of infections; at least one in two women and one in 10 men will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Like many human infections, UTIs are usually caused by bacteria living on or in our bodies, and require treatment with antibiotics. What’s alarming the medical community now is that UTIs are becoming ever harder to treat with common antibiotics. Antibiotic overuse leads to antibiotic resistance At some point, most people have taken a course of trimethoprim/sulf...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lisa Bebell, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Infectious diseases Kidney and urinary tract Women's Health Source Type: blogs