Second wave of H1N1 flu cases expected
Though vaccine that protects against the H1N1 flu has been available,
many parents have not had their children vaccinated.
Some think that the flu season is subsiding, and because their child has
avoided H1N1, there's no need to get them a flu shot now.
That's not the case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
expect another wave of flu cases this spring. Kids who didn't get an
H1N1 shot before should have one now. It will be effective within two
weeks and will protect them in March and April.
Parents may think it's not a serious illness, but thousands of children
have been hospitalized and many have died. Immunization is especially
important if a child has a medical condition such as asthma or a heart
Other parents question whether the vaccine is safe. Health authorities,
however, say that it is.
If your children haven't had an H1N1 shot, now is the time to protect
them, which also helps to protect you.
Check your pulse
Do you know your resting heart rate? It's one of the easiest ways to
calculate the health of your heart.
A study at Georgetown University found that people with the highest
resting heart rates, over 76, were more likely to have a heart attack
than those with the lowest rate, 62 or under.
Take your pulse after resting, not talking much and not smoking for 20
minutes. It could be higher on stressful days, when you are very tired
or when you are coming down with a cold.
Check your pulse by placing a finger under your wrist. Count the number
of beats for 15 seconds and multiply by four. Or count the beats for a
full minute. Drugstore blood pressure machines calculate your pulse rate
and blood pressure at the same time.
Regular exercise can lower a heart rate and relaxation strategies can
help too. Breathing exercises, meditation and peaceful music can lower
Stress and (more) overweight
One Harvard study shows that stress can cause people who are already
overweight to put on more pounds. In the Midlife in the United States
Study, subjects were followed for nine years. Those with a higher body
mass index (BMI) and those who reported greater psychosocial stress
gained more weight during the study.
Men gained when facing financial problems. Stress at work had a greater
impact if caused by a lack of decision-making authority and by a lack of
opportunity to learn new skills.
Women's BMI tended to increase in response to job demands, family
strains, difficulty paying bills and "perceived constraints in life."
Recommendations for treating prediabetes
About one in four American adults has prediabetes. Now, there are
guidelines for keeping the condition from progressing to full-blown
diabetes. They include:
Lowering LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL, the good kind.
Lowering triglyceride levels.
Keeping blood pressure under 130/80 and taking a daily low-dose aspirin.
Exercise is important. Results of the Diabetes Prevention Program study
showed that people who exercised for 30 to 60 minutes five days a week
were 71 percent more likely to prevent or delay diabetes than those who
Exercise also helped people lose the recommended 10 percent of their
When to get 'Urgent Care'
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University say that if their primary care
physician is not available, people with chronic conditions should go to
an urgent care center for treatment of a sore throat or deep cut.
Urgent care centers offer services such as x-rays, on-site lab work, and
suturing. Urgent care centers are springing up all over the United
States. They're fast.
For symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, however, go to the emergency
room. Only a hospital can help.
To help avoid a cold: Keep your feet warm
A number of studies show that feeling generally cold outside or indoors
will not cause a cold. Having cold feet, however, can make you more
likely to get one.
Researchers at Cardiff University's Common Cold Center (Wales, U.K.) say
that having very cold feet could jump-start a cold. Cold feet, the
doctors explain, cause constriction of the blood vessels in the upper
airways, which may reduce your body's defenses against viruses.
It wouldn't hurt to make yourself comfortable and reduce your chance of
a cold at the same time.
Put on some thick socks if the floor gets drafty when you watch
television, and wear them outside when the weather is frigid.