Monday, June 6, 2011

Women's menstrual cycle as a predictor of heart attack

If you are a woman with a history of an irregular menstrual cycle, then here is a word of caution about your future heart health.

Women with histories of irregular cycles at age 35 have a far greater risk of having a heart attack as they age than women in general. How much greater chance? An amazing 50% greater risk. That's significant enough for you to give serious attention to your present health. Consider this an early warning sign.

The reason for this greater risk? One possible answer is that erratic cycles are often linked with obesity. So control of your weight could greatly reduce your risk of heart attack later in life.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Frequent sex has health benefits for men

Here's a bit of research that will interest many men. According to a study by the New England Research Institute, men who have sex twice a week or more are up to 45 percent less likely to have heart disease than men who have sex once a month or less.

The study tracked 1,000 men between 30 and 70 over a sixteen year period. It also took into account age, weight, blood pressure and other factors. Why the benefit?

The benefit may come from the physical activity and emotional effects of the frequent intimacy. It also could be that men in better health were more interested in sexual activity.

However, other studies by the National Cancer Institute found that men who have sex five or more times a week were much less likely to get prostate cancer.

This information will more than likely cause many men who have never before been interested in improving their health, to start a health improvement  program immediately!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Walking can improve your mind

It's true. Finally there appears to be a way to improve mental functions that's doesn't require expensive drugs (with scary side effects) and no need for any equipment or gym membership. Here it is...

Simple exercises like walking, playing golf or swimming can actually improve your mental function according to a Mayo Clinic study.

It seems that simple exercise is not only good for the heart, it's also great for memory and mental activity. The best news is that it not only can prevent mental decline in older patients, but it can actually reverse some of the loss caused by aging.

A recent study showed walking could produce a 39 percent reduction in the odds of developing mild mental impairment. And other university studies looked at patients with an average age of 70 who were already feeling the effects of a cognitive decline.  A series of tests showed the simple exercises had made a significant improvement in cognitive performance.

But don't think you can run out and exercise before a crucial meeting or exam to improve your performance. These studies were made after six months of walking or other exercise.

But the evidence is clear. Start a simple exercise program now and stay as sharp as a tack as you age.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Three simple steps to lower high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a problem for increasing numbers of people for very simple reasons. First, the average diet is not a good one. It's filled with too many fats, sugars and salt. Second, we have become a society of watchers rather than doers. We turn activity into spectator sports, and sports into video games. The result is higher blood pressure and the resulting effects.

There are some simple ways to help reduce high blood pressure. Here are some of the easiest non-medication ways.

Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital did a study that demonstrated that taking 800 micrograms of the B vitamin folate can cut the risk of high blood pressure by almost a third. The vitamin is found naturally in in grains, greens and citrus fruits. So an increase in these items could prove helpful in lowering high blood pressure.

Here's a surprise. Isometric exercises that were popular years ago may not have made you look like Charles Atlas, but they do help reduce high blood pressure. Isometric handgrip exercises can reduce systolic blood pressure and improve artery flexibility at the same time. A double benefit.

And there's even a way to lower blood pressure while you sleep. Do you snore? Most people who snore do their trumpeting best when sleeping on their back. Well, roll over Beethoven! Because sleeping face down actually lowers nighttime blood pressure, according to a study from the Ehime University School of Medicine in Japan. So sleeping on your stomach is just another way to help lower blood pressure and give your mate a much deserved rest.

Of course none of these steps will probably do the job alone. Blood pressure control requires a serious effort in many directions if you want to  avoid the complications and side effects of blood pressure medications. These tips can just add to your successful control and lowering of blood pressure.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Can you really fool the doctor on blood sugar test reading?

If your are a diabetic, you know the importance of tracking your blood sugar. And every few months, your doctor will look over your diary of readings and make adjustments in your medication, or even more likely, ask you to make adjustments in your behavior. Here's why.

Over time, most of those who have diabetes mellitus 2 or even type 1, go though periods of strictly following our diets and restricting our intake of sugars and such, and other periods when you are far less observant.   Because frankly, it gets somewhat tiresome. And for good reason.

We like our freedom. You don't want to be told what to eat and how often to eat. For a time, it's not a problem, but after months and years most diabetics feel the need to break out of the restrictions and live by "good judgement" rather than the dictates of their blood sugar count. It's understandable!

So while there may not be widespread cheating, there is a slippage. A little more potatoes, rice and an ever-so-small slice of apple pie. After all, it's just for one day. But then there's another day...and often another. Then when it's time for the doctor, there's the effort to coverup the behavior and fool the test results. But is that possible?

Most "cheaters" who try and outwit the doctor by changing their eating habits a few days before going in for the fasting blood test. But does this dodge work? In a word, NO!

A doctor suspecting this behavior will ask for the A1C test as part of the blood panel. Unlike the simple test for the amount of sugar in the blood at the present time, the A1C test provides a retrospective picture of a person's glucose level during the past three months. You can't outwit it with a few days of regulated eating. If the test shows the hemoglobin reading greater than six, it's a sure indication that the patient has had a high blood sugar reading during the previous three months, regardless of the current reading.

So don't think you can cheat. It's best to follow your plan and keep your fasting blood sugar level as close to the 100 mark as you can. Take those finger prick readings as often as you and your doctor think is necessary.