Monday, February 23, 2009

Burgers And Fries Lead to Stroke?

news you may not know

Yes, it's Tasty, but...

Do you love a big double-decker cheeseburger? Or, is it simply not worth it unless you supplement it with a super-sized order of fries and wash it down with a chocolate shake? Ah, yes -- fast food is truly one of the joys of life. In the short run, at least...

Now, of course, comes the more sobering portion of the message.

Consider these numbers: 13%, 1%, 12, 33, 780,000, 150,000, 15% -- 30%.

OK, so that's a bit unfair. Let's unravel these numbers just a bit.

13%. That's the increased risk of having a stroke if you live in the neighborhood with the highest density of fast food restaurants.

1%. You have a 1% increased risk of having a stroke for each additional fast food restaurant located within your neighborhood.

12. Having fewer than 12 fast food restaurants in the neighborhood puts you in the lower category.

33. Having more than 33 fast food restaurants in the neighborhood puts you at the other end of the scale.

780,000. The number of Americans who will suffer a stroke this year.

150,000. The number of Americans who will die as a result of their stroke this year.

15% to 30%. This is the number of survivors of stroke who will suffer a permanent disability.

... yes, it is quite sobering.

The information above comes from a new study conducted by the University of Michigan's stroke program.

So, the next time you find yourself hustling to your favorite fast food drive through -- do a little math. Then, order the garden salad with the light vinaigrette dressing.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about eating a healthy diet, see this from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vicks Not for Infants

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Rated R - Retriscted Use

We often think of infants as simply being "little people." But, especially when it comes to medical issues, that's simply not the case. Sure, they can whine and cry with the best of us. Though, truth be told, dads may be the true winners in that category. So, when it comes to treating your infant's illnesses, you have to be especially careful.

A new study from Wake Forest highlights the hazards of using common cold remedies on infants. In this case the culprit is Vicks VapoRub. Though extremely effective, and particularly soothing when one has a cold, it appears that Vicks is not a remedy for infants under two.

“The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway,” said Bruce K. Rubin, M.D., lead author of the study and a professor in the department of pediatrics at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist. “Infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely.”

Though infants will continue to whine and cry just like mom and dad, they really shouldn't be treated in the same fashion. And, it's not just Vicks about which we need to be concerned. Special care needs to be taken with any adult remedy when it's administered to a child.

So, let the kids be kids, and tell dad the whining won't get him anywhere.

To read more about this study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about protecting your child from medication errors, see this from The Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Health in a Heart Beat

news you may not know

Got 30 Seconds?

Are you feeling pressed for time? Sure, your intentions are great. But, when it gets right down to it, you really just don't find the time, energy, and determination to put on the sneakers and head out the front door. So what can you do? Well, if time is the issue, there's good news.

A new study from the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh says that time isn't the key to building health through exercise. As a matter of fact, in as little as seven minutes each week, you can help yourself achieve a greater level of physical fitness.

The researchers studied 16 men who had type II diabetes. The men, though in relatively poor physical condition, had no significant health issues other than the diabetes. The researchers then put these volunteers through their paces. How tough was it? Well, consider this:

These poor volunteers were forced to exercise at a vigorous pace for 30 seconds -- four times each day. But, they were only required to do so on two days each week. So, their total effort for the week was, shall we say, minimal.

“What we have found is that doing a few intense muscle exercises, each lasting only about 30 seconds, dramatically improves your metabolism in just two weeks,” said Professor James Timmons, who led the study.

What's the bottom line?

Sadly, for those of us who choose to believe our lives are too busy to accommodate a rigorous exercise program, we now find ourselves at a loss. So, unless we can live our lives at such a frenetic pace that even 30 seconds becomes untenable, we simply may have to face the music -- and actually do our bodies a favor.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about implementing a more serious exercise program, see this from

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Just How Good is That Nursing Home?

news you may not know

It's a Tough Decision...

It’s never any easy decision. One day you’re enjoying life and making plans. There’s that trip to visit the kids in Boston, or the drive through the Rockies you’ve been wanting to take. Or, heck – there’s that new grocery store downtown that’s supposed to be quite spectacular. You know, as far as grocery stores go.

Then, it all changes. In a blink your plans no longer matter. The trips you dreamed of will never happen. And, even the trip to the local grocer will be a solo journey. Your (husband, wife, mother, father, friend) is sick. They need help and it’s your responsibility to provide it.

It’s the toughest time to try to make a solid decision about nursing home care. While you’re still reeling from the upheaval of all you knew, you’re expected to somehow gather your senses, march through a number of unfamiliar health care facilities and decide which is best.

Fortunately, there are some resources available to help you make a good decision. The first, not surprisingly, is simple word of mouth. News of terrific care, and its opposite, travels every bit as quickly as news about the latest blockbuster. So, ask around – you’ll find plenty of folks willing to share, for better or worse.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is also pitching in. They recently released their first-ever rating of close to 16,000 U.S. nursing homes. The homes are rated from one to five stars, based upon the results of quality assessments derived form health inspection surveys. These surveys consider a wide array of patient care related areas, including patient safety, independence, levels of improvement, and medication errors. They also assess the facility in areas like cleanliness, nutritional quality, and socialization opportunities.

It’s still never an easy decision. But, with a bit of discussion and some educational resources, you’ll be able to make a well thought out decision.

You can access the new rating system at Nursing Home Compare.