IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date: March 1, 2006
New CPR Rules Will Save More Lives
The most common reason people die from cardiac arrest: no one nearby
knew CPR, or if they did know it, they didn't do it. In sudden cardiac
arrest, the heart has stopped beating.
New guidelines by the American Heart Association for cardio-pulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) are simpler and less intimidating to a bystander
thrust into the role of rescuer.
Now it's simple: Call for help, push the chest, and don't stop.
Two rescue breaths can be given before pushing on the chest and after
every 30 compressions, but mouth-to-mouth is optional. Until emergency
medical responders arrive, chest compressions alone can often be just as
effective in saving a life.
Authors of the new guidelines say the more times a person pushes on the
chest, the better off the patient is. Compressions cause blood flow to
the brain and other vital organs.
When someone collapses, doesn't respond to shaking, and isn't breathing,
CPR can save his life.
Revised guidelines call for 30 compressions between breaths instead of
•Position the person flat on his back, tilt the head back, and lift the
chin until teeth nearly touch.
• (Optional) Pinch the nose and give two full breaths that are two
seconds long and produce a visible chest rise.
• Place your hands in the center of the chest between the nipples, one
hand on the other. With elbows locked, press the heel of your hand into
the chest. Give 30 compressions for every two full breaths. Repeat until
medical help arrives.
About 250,000 people die of cardiac arrest in the U.S. each year.
Folate and Hemorrhagic Stroke
Hemorrhagic stroke is more deadly than its better-known counterpart,
ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke is also called a cerebral
hemorrhage or bleeding in the brain.
Like ischemic stroke, risk factors for hemorrhagic stroke include
inflammation in the arteries and heart, high blood pressure, and
hardening of the arteries caused by plaque. But much of the advice given
on strokes is primarily for prevention of ischemic strokes.
New studies now suggest a prevention strategy targeted for hemorrhagic
strokes exclusively. They show that folate, a B vitamin found in green
leafy vegetables, dried beans and some other vegetables and fruits,
helps to protect against hemorrhagic stroke AND Alzheimer's disease.
The Swedish study reported in the American Heart Association journal
Stroke shows that subjects with the highest levels of folate had only
one-fifth the risk of hemorrhagic stroke than those with the lowest
There was no such correlation for ischemic stroke risk.
Steroid Injections for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most reported occupational
maladies. Though it is often associated with heavy computer use, people
in many other jobs report carpal tunnel problems, as do golfers and
If patients don't respond to corticosteroids, splinting, and
anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, doctors may recommend surgery.
Soon, treatment with steroid injections may eliminate the need for
surgery. A study reported in Arthritis & Rheumatism, shows that in
patients treated with local steroid injections, 94 percent reported
significant improvement at the 3-month mark. In patients who had the
surgery, 75 percent had significant improvement. At the end of one year,
however, improvement was the same for those taking injections and those
Patients receiving the local steroid injections received one shot to
start the treatment and one shot 14 days later.
Beef: Vitamins, Minerals, Satisfaction
Scientist have just begun to figure out why
high-protein diets were successful (at least for a time) for so many
people. They've found that it wasn't cutting the carbs that did it. It
was that protein makes you feel fuller. And it's something of an
appetite suppressant as well, according to studies published in the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Their study showed that people
felt less hungry when they increased intake from protein from 15 percent
to 30 percent. They did not decrease their consumption of carbohydrates.
That's good news for most of us, because we're are
back in the saddle again. We're stampeding back to our steaks. Before
you fire up the grill, however, remember that good health doesn't mean
downing a pound of porterhouse for dinner. Keep portions at reasonable
Beef, pork, and other red meats are rich in iron, and
iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S.
It's one of the main reasons why people drag themselves to the doctor.
Without enough iron, they're tired much of the time.
Meat contains heme iron, which is the most absorbable
kind. Plant foods contain nonheme iron, which is less absorbable. Beef
also contains vitamins B6 and B12, niacin, and zinc.
Time to Get Smarter About Exercise
Doctors at the knee-replacement area of Pennsylvania
Hospital in Philadelphia say they are seeing a much higher volume of
people in their 30s and 40s with osteoarthritis in their knees.
It's symbolic of a situation that is getting worse
all across the country, particularly with baby boomers. They want to
stay healthy and vibrant, but some aren't being smart about how they go
about it. They still feel like they're 20, but their bodies are older.
Turning 40 can be a pain in the neck, and in the
ankles, back, groin, shoulders, and hamstrings. Baby boomers are
suffering more than a million sports injuries every year. The highest
numbers are from bicycling, basketball, baseball, and running, according
to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The idea of exercise is to stay in good physical
condition. Biking on mountain trails or trying to relive your glory days
playing basketball or football in a weekend-warrior style is not the way
to do it.
Aging can't be avoided, but injuries can. Exercise
appropriately and watch for signs like muscle soreness and joint pain.
Then change your routine.
A new term puts a different slant on heart disease.
From folk medicine to modern research, the impact of a positive outlook
on life has long been suspected to have a big influence on heart health.
Doctors today are finding that psychological factors
may be just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to
preventing heart attacks.
Fear is a factor. After an earthquake or hurricane,
heart attack deaths are more than three times the usual toll. On the day
of the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles County, cardiovascular deaths
jumped from 15.6 per day to 51
Negative emotions play a role in heart health.
Doctors at the University of Birmingham in England find that depression
at least doubles an otherwise healthy person's heart attack risk.
Hostility and anger are important factors. Doctors at
Duke University find that high levels of hostility increase the risk of
dying from heart disease by 29 percent. In people 60 or younger,
hostility increases the risk by 50 percent.
Stress is a factor. A large study led by Canada's
McMaster University shows that in the year before heart attacks, 30
percent of patients had been under significant stress from work, family,
financial troubles, and other causes. It doesn't have to be that way.
Doctors say people handle stress differently. Those who handle it well
have a sense of control over their lives, rather than feeling they are
victims of circumstance.
Hostile and depressed people interpret more
situations as stressful. The resulting increase in stress hormones such
as adrenaline can wreak havoc on the heart. They also have higher levels
of C-reactive protein, which is associated with cardiovascular risk.
Be optimistic. Laugh a little, and keep your heart healthy.
Lose a Pound and Save Your Knees
Even small amounts of weight loss can improve knee
function, especially in osteoarthritic adults.
Each pound you lose means four less pounds of
pressure on your knee joints, say researchers at Wake Forest University.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight pays off
in pain reduction.
Screening for Down syndrome
A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
shows that a new blood test combined with an ultrasound that is
performed on pregnant women in their first trimester can identify 87
percent of fetuses affected with Down syndrome.
Adding a second blood test in the second trimester
can lead to detection of 95 percent of affected fetuses. The new tests
could greatly reduce the number of women who undergo amniocentesis,
which may cause miscarriage.
The risk of Down syndrome increases with age. The NIH
recommends that pregnant women 35 and older be offered amniocentesis.
But about 80 percent of Down babies are born to women under age 35. They
have far more babies.
About 70 percent of pregnant women are now given
sonograms to measure fluid that develops in the clear space in the
tissue at the back of a fetus's neck. Fetuses with a high risk of Down
syndrome tend to have more fluid there.
Sleep Apnea and Stroke Risk
Doctors at Yale Center for Sleep Medicine have found
that people with obstructive sleep apnea have twice the risk of strokes
as steady breathers.
People with mild apnea may waken four or five times
an hour. Those with severe apnea may wake up every 30 seconds, often
without becoming fully conscious. It's a cycle of oxygen deprivation;
adrenaline-fueled wakening to restore breathing; an increase in blood
pressure from the adrenaline; then a return to sleep. The cycles lead to
inflammation and clogging of the arteries. Over time, they could lead to
stroke and death.
Kids' Sore Throats and Strep
Researchers at Harvard Medical School say 53 percent
of kids with sore throats aren't given a test for strep before
antibiotics are given. Antibiotics effective against strep include
penicillin, amoxicillin, and erythromycin. Antibiotics won't work on a
sore throat that is caused by a virus.
McDonalds to Give Diet Info
McDonald's Corp. is beginning to post nutritional
data on some of its product packages. By the middle of 2006, the data
will be shown on many product wrappers and packages at the 13,600
McDonald's restaurants in the U.S.
Big Macs, premium chicken sandwiches, french fries,
and salads are among the first products that will show calories,
protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sodium content on the package.
Good Investment: Dental Care
If you visit your dentist on a regular basis, you are
doing yourself a favor in four ways. First, you are saving your teeth so
you can chew properly, which is an important factor in nutrition.
Second, when you visit your dentist, he or she can
check your gums. Periodontal disease can result in lost teeth and is a
significant factor in heart disease. Periodontal bacteria can lead to
blood clots, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.
People with diabetes should be particularly watchful
for periodontal disease. They are more prone to infection, and
periodontal disease makes it more difficult to stabilize blood glucose
levels. Third, properly caring for your teeth results in big financial
savings in the future. Root canals, bridgework, dental implants, and
dentures can cost thousands of dollars.
Fourth, by properly caring for your teeth, you will
ultimately save yourself a lot of pain and inconvenience.
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