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Good News in Nation’s Cardiovascular Health

Hospitalizations and deaths from cardiac or stroke events are down significantly.

Yale researchers mining Medicare data discovered encouraging national trends in cardiovascular disease.  After examining records of 34 million Americans, 65 or older, from 1999-2011, they found reductions in hospitalizations for heart attack (38%), heart failure (30.5%) and ischemic stroke (33.6%). Risk of death one year after hospitalization dropped 23% for heart attack and 13% for heart failure and stroke. Many factors are involved in these improvements.

PositiveTip:  Control the factors you can such as avoid smoking, eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

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Sleep: Helps Keep Your Brain “Clean"

Adequate sleep may contribute to preventing Alzheimer's disease.

The brain has no lymphatic system. Recently a glymphatic system has been identified. This paravascular pathway facilitates the clearance of waste from the brain via an exchange between the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial (ISF) fluids. During sleep, brain cells actually shrink slightly, allowing for greater circulation of the CSF, thus allowing more soluble beta amyloid to be removed, and probably reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

PositiveTip: Watch this fascinating video to learn more about sleep and your amazing brain.

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Update on Ebola

Basic commonsense personal hygiene is your best weapon.

The U.S. CDC has announced they will send a team of experts within hours to any U.S. hospital with a confirmed case of Ebola. The death rate in the current epidemic is close to 70%, and WHO says the number of new cases in West Africa could reach 10,000  weekly within 2 months. Keep up with this emerging story by visiting the NEJM Ebola website.

PositiveTip: Avoid exposure to those infected and practice good, commonsense, consistent personal hygiene.

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Acupuncture Ineffective for Knee Pain

Acupuncture only delivers placebo benefit for chronic knee pain.

Researchers provided acupuncture treatments for 282 people aged 50+ with chronic knee pain. They randomly assigned patients to either needle, laser, sham laser acupuncture or no treatment at all. After 12 weeks of treatment, needle and sham acupuncture had the same moderate pain improvements compared to no treatment. Hence, believing you’d had the treatment was as effective as receiving the treatment. After 1-year follow up, none of the acupuncture treatments were effective.

PositiveTip: Physical activity and hydrotherapy are better drug-free alternatives for knee pain.

Adolescents Who Harm Themselves

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry defines self-injury among adolescents as, “Self-injury is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue, at times to change a way of feeling.” Self-injury is seen differently by groups and cultures within society. This appears to have become more popular lately, especially among adolescents. The causes and severity of self-injury can vary and can be very complex. Some examples of self-injury include:

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Ebola Prevention

Ebola virus is not as contagious as measles.

Ebola: the word strikes fear in many minds. The virus must remain wet to survive. There are no vaccines available. What can you do?

PostiveTip: If you might be exposed to this virus take these precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based cleaners.
  • Don't have contact with infected people, or items that have been in contact with them (body fluids and tissues), or their remains.
  • Avoid bush meats and contact with bats and pets.
  • Follow careful infection control procedures if you are a healthcare worker. Learn more...

Don't Be Afraid of Your Food

“I’m afraid my food was grown in poor soil and doesn’t have the right nutrition.” “What if my food has been contaminated by pesticides?” “Will I get cancer from my food?” “Did someone irradiate my food?” “Do I need to avoid a certain types of food?”

These are questions heard by nutritionists every day from concerned people – who are misinformed. The misinformation comes from multiple sources: who have a “safer” product to sell, who have a “back to nature” agenda, who have done their research on fear-mongering web-sites. And some – also as fearful – are “helping” to spread “the truth” about the “dangerous” condition of food. The truth is – in general – food in the United States is safe.

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Moderate Alcohol Use and Sperm Quality

As few as 5 drinks a week can affect quality of sperm.

Sperm concentration, total sperm count, and percentage of healthy, normal sperm were lower in men reporting 5 or more drinks per week, according to Danish researchers. Men who typically drank more than 25 drinks per week had a 33% decrease compared to men who drank 5 or less per week. It is not known if this effect is permanent.

PositiveTip: Young men be warned: Habitual alcohol use may hurt the chances of reproducing.

Traveling Health

Traveler's Health

Doctor Bob folded up his stethoscope and put it in his pocket. “Is there anything else I should know, Ken?” He stood at the counter, entering his findings of the yearly physical for this retiree.

"No, don’t think so.” Ken buttoned his shirt. “Marie’s home packing. We’re going to the Caribbean for two weeks.” Ken smiled at the thought. “Some friends are arranging the trip. Marie likes to pack early.”

"Oh?” Doctor Bob looked up, suddenly interested. “Do you know where you are going?”

“The itinerary’s not totally arranged yet,” Ken said absently, adjusting his belt.

“And what have you and Marie done about your health on this trip? What preparations have you made?”

“What do you mean?” Ken looked up quizzically. “We’re just going to the Caribbean.”

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Marijuana Arrests Teen's Development

Teen marijuana use linked to school failure, suicide, and drug abuse.

Three well-controlled, large studies in New Zealand and Australia of those who used marijuana before age 17 reveal adverse changes to developing brains and significant negative impacts on motivation, drive, and cognition. Subjects were followed for up to 30 years. A dose-response relationship was observed between frequency of use and dropout rates, suicide attempts, failure to get a college degree, and use of illicit drugs.

PositiveTip: Parents must warn teens and young adults about the major adverse effects of marijuana use.