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 15 breaths.

•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 levels.

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 tennis players.

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 having surgery.

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 sizes.

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.