Saturday, 7 July 2007

Dying of a broken heart

Filed under:

It's not just lyrics of a country song or the melodramatics of a teenage girl who lost her boyfriend -- you actually can die of a broken heart. Doctors have long been puzzled about incidents where people die during a stressful or emotionally difficult event or on the anniversary of such an event. Recently a woman suffered a near-death experience while attending her sister-in-law's funeral. The woman had previously had a heart defibrillator installed; the attack at the funeral would have caused cardiac arrest if it wasn't for her defibrillator. The event is important for doctors because the device recorded the exact time and shows a certain amount of proof that stress and high-emotion can trigger a cardiac event.

While the medical community may shun the phrase "die of a broken heart" it's generally accepted that a person's emotional state plays a large role in their health. Doctors suggest that adrenaline is one possibility for heart problems during times of high stress -- negative or positive stress. Doctors caution that this news is important to keep in perspective; the biggest measures you can take to prevent heart-health issues are maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking.

Diets that seemingly will never work sometimes can

Filed under:

when studying all the various diets that find their way to television, radio and magazine advertising, I have to wonder if some of these ever work for anyone. The claims are so outrageous and the marketing so cheesy that it is hard to imagine anyone ever following advice from some diet snake oil salesman. The ones that pitch "eat all you want and lose weight" are especially entertaining.

Although we are all really the same, we are all really different too. In our upbringing, preconceptions, memories, food tastes, strength of will, adaptability and other things, we can have a predisposition to succeed or fail with any particular diet. What works for one may not work for another.

Are there diets that will never work for anyone, though? Outside of the obvious scams, it's hard to say. Common sense continues to reign really, as exercise and eating foods that you like which are healthy are two big keys for me. However, they may not work for you. To get a clearer picture, visiting a registered dietitian is always a great idea to get a grasp on your specific situation.

A reason to avoid the water: Recreational water illnesses

Filed under: ,

During summertime, I love spending my days on the water, and since I'm pretty far from the ocean, it's lakes and pools for me. But here's a reason to avoid the water: Recreational Water Illnesses. Basically, RCIs are any sort of condition you can develop from swimming. Such as? Swimmer's ear -- where water trapped in the ear canal breaks down protective barriers, allowing all sort of gross germies (technical term: bacteria, parasites, etc) to enter your ear and set up a house. Ewwwww! Another common one? Swimmer's itch--rash-like symtoms that result from being exposed to parasites in the water. Double ewwww!

How to avoid RCIs? Other than not swimming? Shower after swimming, fully dry out your ears, don't swallow water and see your doctor is something seems awry.

Botox helps kids with cerebral palsy

Filed under: ,

Kids who have cerebral palsy often have stiff muscles that sporadically contract, and over-react to stimulation. Gaining any additional control over muscle movement is seen a significant improvement -- and, according to a recent study, that's just what Botox might be able to provide.

Technically, this is old news, with the first reports of Botox's success in treating kids with cerebral palsy published in 1993. However, that initial report, and the many that followed, had difficulty determining just how much the drug was helping patients. But in the most-recent study, researchers were able to accurately measure the positive effects of Botox -- finding that worked to treat the physiologic and mechanical effects of cerebral palsy in a "genuine and measurable" way.

While this is certainly exciting news for those effected by the condition, researchers also note that the effects may not be dramatic enough to be perceived by patients and their families -- so they caution that patients' expectations should be managed accordingly.

Hello to the Structure House gang!

Filed under: , , , , , ,

My personal training client Jody, is in the middle of a two week stay at Structure House. He's been there before, and after losing 40 pounds here...I'm thrilled he's returned as he's reached a stubborn plateau in his training. More mental than anything, but I'm so happy he's off in Durham, North Carolina focusing solely on getting fit and losing some more weight.

I speak to my Jody daily and he's having a blast, having success, and making tons of friends. Usually, he puts me on the phone with one of his Structure House buddies when we speak. They've come from around the country, and all seem to be dropping pounds galore.

So. To Jody, Iris, Inna, Arthur, and everyone else at Structure House, I wish you the best. I encourage you to wake up to each new day as another awesome opportunity to take charge of your life and become the person you're desperate to be. You've all invested so much financially and emotionally to be there. Jody has bragged about what spectacular people you are, so keep making strides towards living a better and longer life!

Continue reading Hello to the Structure House gang!

Women with dense breast tissue face increased cancer risk

Filed under: , ,

Of all forms of cancer, I personally find breast cancer the scariest because not only does it mainly affect women, but it is also the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in Canada and the United States. Excluding skin cancers, breast cancer is actually the most common form of the disease in women across the globe.

There are also so many risk factors that women have to consider, it almost makes it seem impossible for anyone to not get the disease. One of the newest potential causes being discussed is the density of breast tissue. According to this article, breasts are made up of both fatty and ductal tissue, and the more dense ductal tissue in the breast, the higher the risk of developing the disease.

The piece says that until recently it was believed that it was just harder to find tumors within the dense tissue, but a recent study found that women with more ductal tissue were actually five times more likely to develop breast cancer than those with little or none of the tissue.

Since there's not a lot that you can do about this, or many of the other risk factors (first menstruation before age 12, having children after age 30, genetics, etc), the best defense is to make sure you get a breast exam during your yearly check-up and begin getting yearly mammograms after age 50.

Teens need vitamins too

Filed under: ,

A unique study of more than 2,500 U.S. high school seniors in the December 2006 Journal of American Dietetic Association reported that vitamin use was related to some important differences in lifestyle and diet behaviors. Adolescents who took vitamins had a lower rate of smoking, were less likely to be overweight, were more physically active, watched less television, and had a healthier diet.

To find out what supplements might be appropriate for your children, check out choosing vitamins for kids and teens and remember that supplements are not substitutes for healthy dietary patterns. Adolescents should still be encouraged to adopt health patterns, rather than rely on dietary supplements for adequate nutrient intake.

Prescription drugs more popular than street drugs with kids?

Filed under: ,

I'm sure we will here more about Al Gore's son and his alleged prescription drug charges come next week. Before we get to that, we have to ask ourselves: are prescription drugs being abused more than street drugs these days?

Drug abuse experts are stating that prescription drugs may indeed take over street drugs in popularity soon. Oddly, this comes as no surprise: prescription narcotics and other drugs seem to be at the center of drug arrests from what is reported in the media, and I hear about street drugs (heroine, cocaine and meth) less and less. Sure, that's an objective statement, but it's true.

Are prescription drugs safer than street drugs? That probably varies by use and dose, but that is an ill-conceived perception by young people if that is what is thought. According to experts, prescription drug abuse is particularly common among upper middle class students.

Soccer in the spotlight: Get fit, make friends and have fun

Filed under: , , , ,

With the FIFA Under-20 World Cup going on right now in various city's throughout Canada, and with kids getting excited about having hip soccer mega-star David Beckham playing for the L.A. Galaxy, soccer's (aka football) popularity is soaring among youth across North America.

The world's most popular sport has never gotten the same kind of play on this continent (with the exception of Mexico, where it's always been huge) as it has around the globe, but that's all starting to change. Soccer is quickly becoming one of the most popular recreational sports among younger kids, with leagues starting for children as young as 3-years-old. Sure, the little ones don't really know the rules but it gives them a chance to run around, have fun and begin to develop a love of the game.

Even adults who previously joined softball teams are getting into things. I've got a group of girlfriends, the majority of whom have never played before, who have created their own team this year just for the fun of it. Most of the team is pushing 30 and many have kids under 18-months-old. It's great exercise and it gives everyone a chance to get out and socialize. If you want to get in the game, take a look at the US Soccer Federation site for all kinds of info.

How much is too much fish?

Filed under:

In most cases, lower fat foods are considered better for you health -- except when it comes to fish. Fish--especially the fatty kinds--are are considered a super-food in terms of their healthy qualities, one in patrticular: Omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fishes include yummy varieties like salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout and even sardines. Not that other fish varieties aren't healthy, but you should try to get some of these ones in. For example,4-oz of Salmon offer 83% of your recommended amount of Omega-3, while cod only offers 15%.

The ADA currently recommends two 4-oz servings of fatty fish a week, and although its extremely healthy, it's also high in calories, so be sure to watch what you eat, even when it comes to fish.

Tend to that 'Computer Vision Syndrome'

Filed under:

Sit in front of a computer all day? Hopefully, you have a super-bright and well-adjusted computer monitor that does not tease your eyes into being strained.

Recent studies show that "Computer Vision Syndrome" (CVS) affects nine out of 10 computer users every day, and I can't see it getting any better. After all, aren't you spending more and more time reading newsletters, shopping and reading health blogs than you used to? Not to mention doing spreadsheet calculations and typing letters?

The reason for CVS is that we tend to blink less when staring at a computer monitor than when doing other tasks. But, it's an easy thing to correct -- make a conscious effort to blink regularly when in front of that LCD screen. In fact, do it now.

Can dogs really learn sign language?

Filed under:

When I first saw the title of this article -- Sign Language for Dogs -- I was a bit incredulous. Dogs can learn sign language? Seriously? I've never really considered what it would be like to train a deaf dog, but I suppose it's more common than I would have imagined.

And if dogs can learn a myriad of other commands, why wouldn't they be able to learn sign language? As the piece mentions, both deaf and hearing dogs can learn specific signs. It just take a bit more patience on their human's part, and has a lot more to do with body language than the sound of a happy or stern voice. The article mentions that when training a dog, you can use actual American Sign Language signs, or just stick with specific hand and finger gestures.

Your pet can be taught 'fetch', 'look', 'get up' or 'get down', 'sit', 'stay', 'drop it', along with a huge variety of other commands, just by using specific hand or finger motions. Anyone who has ever had a puppy knows that it can be pretty stressful to get them properly trained but sign language sounds like a pretty good way to go. Whether it's a necessity because you've got a deaf dog, or you are hearing-or speech-impaired and need to train your dog with signs, or whether you think it would just be a great tool for training your pet, you can learn a lot more about it here.

Nicole Richie pregnant? The skinny on pregnancy weight gain

Filed under: , , , ,

When rumors started to surface last week that Nicole Richie may be pregnant, I thought to myself "how the heck did that happen?" While she may have gained some weight recently, according to the information provided when she was arrested less than a year ago, Richie is 5'1" and weighs 85 lbs, giving her a BMI of 16.1 which is well under the healthy BMI minimum of 18.

So I figured that the notoriously skinny star was way too thin to conceive, but while being underweight may hinder your chances of getting pregnant, it doesn't make it impossible. However, according to this, she (and other soon-to-be moms who were underweight at conception) should gain up to 40 lbs throughout her pregnancy.

That may seem like a lot for someone so small, but as most future moms would say, if it's good for the baby, it's OK with me. If you're trying to conceive, or are already pregnant and are concerned with weight gain and the effects it will have on your body, take a look here for additional information.

Just how do you dispose of prescription drugs?

Filed under:

When you're done with those prescription medications (without taking every last one), is throwing them away the best course of action? It's well-known that there are more prescription drug residues in the waste treatment plans across the country, but sometimes the actual drugs are directly thrown away instead of ingested.

The problem is that the environment can be harmed by these products just as throwing toxic waste can harm the environment. In fact, I consider some prescription drugs toxic already, but that's another post. If you're on some prescription drugs, what do you do with leftover tablets or capsules?

Don't flush them down the toilet, but ask your pharmacist about a "drug take-back" policy that allows you to return unused drugs back to the place of purchase for safe disposal. In other words, I'd prefer not to have that Vicodin residue in that public drinking water.

A better body only 20 minutes away

Filed under: , ,

It's lovely out where I live today and to celebrate I've taken the afternoon off to enjoy the heat, but stay cool on a float with friends. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is putting on my bathing suit. I know that there is flab in places where I don't want flab, and it's only going to look more pronounced in a bikini top. Despite all the talk, I am guilty of waiting too long to tone up.

Since there's still loads of hot weather to come (at least I hope), I know that it's not too late to improve on the paunch at least a little before the last float of the season. I was pretty excited to come across this piece with exercises to tone your abs, arms and legs in a mere 20 minutes a day. I'm working two jobs right now, so it's tough to find time to fit in a really long work-out.

If you've found yourself in the same situation and are still determined to get into better shape sooner rather than later, give the work out a try. The exercises are fairly easy to do and require very little equipment, so it's not going to cost a fortune. Most importantly, the article reminds us all that the best way to get the most out of the work-out is to remember the basics like stretching beforehand, breathing throughout, having good posture and cooling down afterward.

Inside antiperspirant

Filed under:

I recently discovered an informative (and fun) site called the Beauty Brains. where scientists answer your important questions on cosmetics and other beauty products. This week, they posted on Antiperspirant, asking the question, Will covering your body in antiperspirant suffocate you? In other words, if antiperspirant stops you from sweating, then applied to your whole body, would your skin be unable to breathe? What do you think? Apparently, applying antiperspirant only reduces your sweating by 20%, so I don't think it could block all your sweating. And there's no warning on antiperspirant to prevent you from using excess amounts.

What interested me was an explanation of just how antiperspirants work. Apparently, aluminum salts in antiperspirant, when mixed with water (sweat), swells sweat glads and block more water from coming out. Who knew? Not me, in any case.

Burger King to use trans fat-free oil, finally

Filed under:

In what seems to be a common theme with fast-food chains nationwide, Burger King stated this morning that it will begin using trans fat-free cooking oils across its menu to cook foods.

The burger joint becomes the latest nationally-recognized chain to switch to trans-fat free oils, a roster which now include Wendy's and Taco Bell. In fact, Burger King admitted that it was already using zero trans-fat oil in hundreds of its restaurants nationwide. Burger King currently has 7,100 U.S. locations.

Will other national restaurant chains follow suit? It seems that the "me too" mentality has started, and I'll bet that many chains will make the change just to get the publicity if nothing else. Regardless, these changes are good however you look at it.

Medical tourism is soaring

Filed under:

Whether it's plastic surgery, disease management, or other expensive procedures some are flying the healthy skies in search of lower-cost health care. The number of uninsured Americans is soaring and with medical costs in the US being as high as they are, some people are turning to medical tourism for health care. Nearly 45 million Americans are uninsured. Outside of That's Fit, I work for a small company and there's no way my employer can afford health insurance for the staff. So, I pay for my own coverage and it's a drain on my budget. Every time I write out a check for my insurance I inwardly groan, but the security of having it beats the anxiety of going insured.

It's estimated that at least 150,000 Americans traveled abroad for a health procedure during 2006. It seems like a drastic measure, but if you have to undergo a pricey procedure and you're uninsured I suppose you'd have to look at all viable options. For example, a heart bypass can cost upwards of $130,000 in the US but the same procedure may be $10,000 or $11,000 in India or Thailand.

If considering medical tourism, it's vitally important to thoroughly research the clinic or hospital before scheduling any procedures. Many are even accredited with the US-based Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO). Verify your doctor's eduction and training before traveling. In addition to thoroughly researching the clinic and your doctor, also research the after-care routine and practices.

Counseling helps weight loss success

Filed under:

When you're ready to tackle the mother of all projects -- weight loss -- it makes sense to arm yourself with all the tools you can to ensure your project outcome is as grand as possible. After all, it really demoralized you to make all that effort only to end up at the same weight that you were at before.

What helps besides doing research, setting goals, taking measurements and celebrating milestones while you go through the rigors of losing weight? How about talking your methodology through with a dietary counselor before and during the process?

Research says that those who include a dietary counselor as part of their dietary counseling actually got rid of six percent more body weight each year opposed to those who did not include a dietary counselor. Perhaps talking about what you are about to do as well as what you are doing helps you stay on track more? (Health) food for thought here.

Steal Hilary Duff's moves

Filed under:

Pop princess and actress Hilary Duff looks great, probably because she's, like,12 (no, not really--she's actually 19), but it's not just down to her youthfulness -- she also works hard to maintain her shape. Shape magazine has profiled some of Duff's fitness moves that help keep her looking her best. And because of wonderful technology, you can actually watch these moves and steal them by visiting this website.

Duff's also admitted she's a big fan of 80's dance music while she's working out. What do you listen to?

Men skimping on health care visits

Filed under:

Why do men skip regular doctor visits and health screenings? My guess is that the stubborn streak most guys have gets the best of them. Unless they are on death's door, you won't find many men at a doctor's office.

A recent study found that more than half of the men observed in the study had not seen a doctor (primary care physician) in the last year for any kind of regular exam, and 25% more said that they waited "as long as possible" for receiving treatment when ill or sick.

I'll admit that I sued to be this way -- but am no longer. Being healthy and eating well does not preclude one form being sick, and when that happens, the trek to a doctor's office or naturopathic physician is a no-brainer for me.

Healthy living tips from Fergie

Filed under:

Stacey Ferguson, AKA Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, has seen the light and it's healthy living. Self Magazine features her as their cover girl this month and their website has an interview with the pop princess, dishing about her healthy habits. Here are some facts to might not know about the songstress:
  • She's okay with seeing unflattering picture of herself in he media. In fact, it's freeing. She doesn't want to be a slave to the paparazzi, and if that means seeing herself sweating on the front cover of a magazine, so be it.
  • If she could tell her 20-something self one thing, it would be this: Sunscreen and eye cream!
  • After leaving Wild Orchid, she vowed not to join another band but is so grateful she did.
  • To make a hotel room feel like home, she brings lots of clothes and spreads the throughout the room.
I never liked Fergie all that much, but I find my opinion of her improves with every interview I read. What about you?