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Belly fat increases risk of death among normal-weight people
Date: 2012-08-28 20:02:08

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic discovered that people who have a normal weight but a high amount of fat in their bellies have a higher risk of dying compared to individuals who are obese. These results may be relevant to people who need a blood test to assess their cardiovascular and metabolic health.

For the study, the researchers reviewed medical data collected from nearly 13,000 adults aged 18 or older. These subjects were divided into three groups according to body mass index, as well as two categories based on waist-to-hip ratios.

Among those who had a normal body mass index, the risks of cardiovascular death and mortality from all causes were 2.75 times and 2.08 times higher for subjects who had central obesity, respectively.

"The high risk of death may be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation in this group, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors, the limited amount of fat located on the hips and legs, which is fat with presumed protective effects, and to the relatively limited amount of muscle mass," said researcher Karine Sahakyan, M.D., Ph.D.

People who have a normal body mass index but are still concerned about their cardiovascular and metabolic health may undergo a blood test to make sure they are healthy.

... Full Story

Micronutrients may boost quality of older men's sperm
Date: 2012-08-29 19:28:34

Blood testing to measure nutrient levels can help inform men of whether they are consuming enough vitamins and minerals. Such information may guide health-related decisions. For example, new research from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that a high intake of different micronutrients may make the sperm quality of older men comparable to that of younger men.

These results are significant in light of current trends that see men fathering babies past the age of 35. As they get older, the sperm that they produce tend to acquire more DNA damage, increasing the risk that their children are born with conditions such as dwarfism.

In order to understand whether diet could improve sperm quality, a team of scientists conducted an experiment on 80 men aged 20 to 80 years. In addition to providing sperm samples, the subjects also answered questionnaires concerning their daily intake of certain nutrients.

"It appears that consuming more micronutrients such as vitamin C, E, folate and zinc helps turn back the clock for older men. We found that men 44 and older who consumed at least the recommended dietary allowance of certain micronutrients had sperm with a similar amount of DNA damage as the sperm of younger men," said lead researcher Andy Wyrobek.

However, these effects were not observed in younger subjects.

Older men who are thinking of having children may want to consider blood testing to measure their levels of various micronutrients.

... Full Story

Stress may elevate stroke risk
Date: 2012-08-30 20:54:10

A blood test that assesses one's stroke risk profile could inform an individual's decisions about making lifestyle adjustments in order to prevent a major event. These modifications may include stress management, as new research published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry suggests that chronic stress, as well as type A personality traits, may increase the likelihood of a stroke.

Although stress has been linked to heart disease, little was known about its connection to stroke. In order to investigate further, a team of scientists conducted an experiment that included 150 adults who had been admitted to the stroke unit of a hospital, and 300 adults who served as healthy controls.

Study participants underwent assessments for personality, mental health, lifestyle choices and physical risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Results showed that subjects who experienced a major life event in the previous year had a four-fold increase in stroke risk. The odds were tripled for those with heart rhythm disturbances and daytime sleepiness. The chances of a stroke were doubled for individuals who smoked, drank at least two energy drinks a day or had type A personality traits, which include aggression, impatience and a quick temper.

Men were nine times more likely than women to have a stroke.

Individuals who wonder about their personal risks should consider taking a blood test to find out more.

... Full Story

Consumption of chocolate may decrease likelihood of stroke in men
Date: 2012-08-30 21:48:31

Individuals who take a blood test to assess their risk of stroke may make certain lifestyle adjustments, such as dietary changes, in order to prevent such an event. New research from Sweden suggests that eating moderate amounts of chocolate - the equivalent of one-third of a cup of chocolate chips - every week may decrease men's risk of a stroke.

This conclusion is based on a study of more than 37,000 men aged 49 to 75, all of whom filled out questionnaires about the frequency with which they ate certain foods, including chocolate.

After about 10 years, the scientists calculated that those who ate the highest amounts of chocolate were 17 percent less likely to experience a stroke, compared to those who never consumed this food.

Furthermore, a review of five other studies indicated that the likelihood of stroke in men fell by 14 percent for every 50-gram increase of weekly chocolate consumption.

"While other studies have looked at how chocolate may help cardiovascular health, this is the first of its kind study to find that chocolate, may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men," said study author Susanna Larsson, Ph.D.

These effects may be due to substances in chocolate that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Men who undergo a blood test to measure their stroke risk should discuss any lifestyle modifications with their healthcare provider.

... Full Story

New York becomes first city to restrict soda sales at restaurants
Date: 2012-09-14 21:51:39

Unhealthy drinks such as soda can no longer legally be sold in quantities larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, cafeterias and concession stands in New York City.

People who drink too many carbonated sugary beverages may not like what they discover if they undergo blood testing for diabetes, as unhealthy diet choices have been linked to the development of obesity and insulin disorders.

"Obesity for the first time in the history of the world will kill more people this year than starvation. It has gone from [being] a rich person's disease to a poor person's disease. It's the only public health issue that's getting worse," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, quoted by the news source Bloomberg.

World Health Organization confirms the mayor's statement, reporting that 65 percent of all people reside in countries where illnesses related to weight problems cause more deaths than malnutrition. In addition to diabetes, overweight and obesity can lead to unfavorable results of blood testing for high cholesterol and blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

... Full Story

University offers cash for deliberate weight gain
Date: 2012-10-03 22:14:54

Harkening back to the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, wherein filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's for a month, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are paying study participants as much as $3,500 to consume a diet that will surely increase the results of their cholesterol testing.

According to ABC News, Dr. Samuel Klein is investigating the development of diabetes and hypertension in overweight and obese individuals by asking people to sign up to consume 1,000 extra calories worth of fast food every day for three months in order to gain 5 to 6 percent of their original body mass.

Those who volunteered for the research were paid $50 to lose whatever weight they gained after the study was complete. ABC News reported that one woman gained 16 pounds after eight weeks of extra fast food, and reported feeling "awful" two weeks in. A man who already weighed almost 250 pounds told the new source that his knees and ankles began to ache after four weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that dangerously high blood cholesterol is asymptomatic. Therefore, it is important to routinely undergo cholesterol testing to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

... Full Story

Exercise could turn "bad" cholesterol into "good" cholesterol, study says
Date: 2012-10-09 22:23:55

A plethora of scientific evidence shows that taking up an exercise routine can, over time, lower the results of cholesterol tests. However, new findings published in the Journal Lipid Research indicates that a workout schedule could lead to fat cells producing a hormone that creates high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" kind of cholesterol.

"When you exercise and diet, you're improving the function of your adipose tissue, your heart and vascular systems, and even muscle performance," said lead study author Christine Ballantyne, director for the Methodist's Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. "You're getting a lot of benefits that you may not see by just looking at the weight on a scale."

Researchers came to this conclusion by examining data of overweight or obese individuals who had a positive result from a blood test for diabetes and signed up for study that would monitor them while they switched to a much healthier lifestyle. Their blood was periodically drawn to test for HDL and other substances.

According to the American Diabetes Association, results from a cholesterol test showing high amounts of low-density lipoprotein increase the odds of receiving a similarly gloomy result from a blood test for diabetes.

... Full Story

Exercise can increase cognitive function
Date: 2012-10-29 21:38:53

A new study conducted by Martin Juneau, M.D., of the Montreal Heart Institute, has revealed that exercise can help improve cognitive functions like quick thinking, recalling information and fast decision making.

The research, which was presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, looked at overweight adults who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Their cognitive function, blood flow to the brain, cardiac output and ability to tolerate exercise was measured before they undertook a four-month exercise regimen, in which they did an exercise bike and circuit weight lifting routine twice a week. After the four months, their weight, body mass index and waist circumference decreased, while their ability to handle exercise went up. The results also showed that the more weight they lost, the more their cognitive function increased.

"If you talk to people who exercise, they say they feel sharper. Now we've found a way to measure that," said Juneau.

Juneau also reported that while people can take a pill to manage high blood pressure or reduce cholesterol, which can be detected with cholesterol testing, exercise has the ability to do both while also making people smarter.

Benefits of exercise... Full Story

Researchers prepare for new blood pressure treatment study
Date: 2012-10-30 19:29:35

Researchers at Baylor Health Care System plan to conduct a study that will test the effects of renal denervation on high blood pressure. Renal denervation is a surgical procedure in which heat produced from radio frequencies decreases the activity of the central nervous system by reducing nerve communication with the kidneys, which can cause high blood pressure.

"The sympathetic nervous system controls blood pressure and can cause hypertension initiated by life and stress," said research author David L. Brown, M.D. "This investigational device is being tested to determine if it will disrupt the sympathetic nervous system, which may significantly lower blood pressure, stop multiple antihypertensive medications, and have an effect on other conditions affected by the sympathetic nervous system."

The study will be comprised of participants who have systolic blood pressure over 160 and currently take three to five different blood pressure medications, but are still unable to bring their blood pressure down to healthy levels. One group of the participants will receive the renal denervation surgery while the other will act as a control, but only the study investigators will know who belongs to which group.

Study author Sonia Prashar, M.S., CCRC, of the Heart Hospital, reported that studies in the past have shown that the renal derivation has been effective in lowering blood pressure.

High blood pressure facts... Full Story

Americans pay three times more for cholesterol medication
Date: 2012-11-02 02:07:17

According to a recent update from Boston University's Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, the price that Americans under 65 years old pay for statins - which are drugs to control cholesterol - is at least three times greater than the cost that the U.K. government pays for the same medications.

The study, which was published in the journal Pharmacotherapy, reported that the use of statins in the U.S. increased from 103,000 people to 125,000 people from 2005 to 2009, and in the U.K. it rose from 67,000 people to 105,000 people during the same time period.

U.S. private insurance companies paid $87 million for statins in 2005, but that number decreased to $47 million in 2009 due to the advent of a less expensive statin known as Zocor. In the U.K. the price of statins paid by the government was reduced from $17 million to $14 million between 2005 and 2009 for the same reason.

Cholesterol statistics... Full Story

Healthy living habits may add 14 years to life
Date: 2012-11-07 21:47:17

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that included data from the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project found that people who have a healthy heart in middle age may have a life expectancy that's 14 years greater than people who have at least two risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

"We found that many people develop cardiovascular disease as they live into old age, but those with optimal risk factor levels live disease-free longer," said research author John T. Wilkins, M.D. "We need to do everything we can to maintain optimal risk factors so that we reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and increase the chances that we'll live longer and healthier."

The study analyzed the risk of developing all forms of cardiovascular disease in people who were older than 45, and it looked at risk factors like blood pressure, diabetes and total cholesterol, which can be measured with cholesterol testing, in each of the participants.

Other results of the study showed that middle-aged men had a 60 percent chance of developing cardiovascular disease during their lifetime, while women had a 56 percent chance of developing a heart condition within their lifetime.

Heart disease statistics... Full Story

New medication may be effective in combating rare cholesterol disease
Date: 2012-11-06 22:20:45

A new report in the journal The Lancet, reports that a new medication known as lomitapide showed promise in its phase 3 clinical trial in combating the the rare cholesterol disorder homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) by significantly lowering "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, which can be detected with cholesterol tests.

Patients who have HoFH have a high levels of LDL because of a genetic mutation in the LDL gene, which inhibits the liver from removing the the bad cholesterol from the blood. HoFH usually results in the development of cardiovascular disorders at a young age and death at about 30 years old.

The study, which was conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania looked at the effect of lomitapide on 29 patients, 23 of whom also engaged in a year-long process that gauged the safety and tolerability of the drug. Each patient received lomitapide along with other lipid-lowering therapies and at the end of the efficacy phase, the average LDL levels were reduced by nearly 50 percent.

"The magnitude of this reduction in LDL-C and the fact that some patients reached or approached the LDL-C therapeutic goals is truly remarkable for this high risk population that historically doesn't respond to lipid-lowering drugs," said research author Marina Cuchel, M.D., Ph.D. "A reduction in LDL-C of this magnitude is certainly expected to favorably alter the clinical course of this devastating disease."

High cholesterol risks... Full Story

Diabetes drug may help increase cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients
Date: 2012-11-21 22:41:46

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston found that a drug known as rosiglitazone, which is normally used for insulin-resistant diabetic patients, helped improve cognitive function in memory and learning.

The study, which used mice as test subjects, found that rosiglitazone improved the transmission between neurons in the brain by helping control a molecule in brain known as extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) that becomes frenetic and results in impaired learning and memory.

"Using this drug appears to restore the neuronal signaling required for proper cognitive function," said research author, Larry Denner Ph.D. "It gives us an opportunity to test several FDA-approved drugs to normalize insulin resistance in Alzheimer's patients and possibly also enhance memory, and it also gives us a remarkable tool to use in animal models to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive issues in Alzheimer's."

Alzheimer's statistics and diagnosis... Full Story

There may be a shortage of primary healthcare providers
Date: 2012-11-28 19:09:22

Researchers at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that with the potential influx of patients due to President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA), primary care physicians who may provide services such as cholesterol tests and blood tests may not be able or willing to take on additional patients.

"This study raises very serious concerns about the willingness and ability of primary care providers to cope with the increased demand for services that will result from the ACA," said research investigator Eric G. Campbell, PhD, of the Mongan Institute. "Even with insurance, it appears that many patients may find it challenging to find a physician to provide them with primary care services."

As part of the study, the researchers looked at a 2009 survey that sought to find the percentage of physicians' patients who were either uninsured or were covered by Medicaid. It also asked about the healthcare providers' willingness to take on more patients in this demographic, as well as their willingness to partake in programs that would help improve the quality of their practices.

While 840 doctors responded to the survey, 53 percent were classified as "safety-net providers," meaning more than 20 percent of their patients were uninsured or were covered by Medicaid. Out of all the safety-net physicians, only 72 percent said that they would take on additional Medicaid patients and 61 percent indicated that they would take on patients with no health insurance. According to the 2012 Current Population Survey Report, in 2011, nearly 48 million people in the U.S. were uninsured.

The study investigators reported that the results show that there may not be enough safety-net, primary care physicians to take on the increased number of patients. Research author Lenny López, M.D., M.P.H., M.D.iv., of the Mongan Institute also reported that before this study, the medical community was aware of the need for increased resources, but the results emphasize how critical that need is.

... Full Story

Stratum ventilation system decreases risk of contracting airborne illnesses
Date: 2012-12-18 15:30:15

A recent study published in the journal World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development found that stratum ventilation systems may help reduce the risk of people contracting airborne diseases such as the flu, which can be detected with a lab test.

Stratum ventilation utilizes a horizontal flow of air and it is gaining popularity in East Asia's schools and work facilities because it can help cut down on energy costs.

During the study, Zhang Lin, Jinliang Wang, Ting Yao, T.T. Chow and K.F. Fong of the City University of Hong Kong created a computer program that allowed them to foresee where exhaled droplets would go in the atmosphere when different ventilation techniques - mixing ventilation, displacement ventilation and stratum ventilation - were used.

The results revealed that different ventilation methods influence the likelihood of contracting airborne diseases, and stratum ventilation was most beneficial for the subjects' health.

"The results show that the flow patterns created by different ventilation methods have great influence on the particle fates," the research authors wrote of their study. "The particle concentrations for the breathing zone under stratum ventilation are significantly lower than that under mixing ventilation or with displacement ventilation. This implies that the risk of pathogen inhalation under stratum ventilation is also lower."

Further flu prevention... Full Story

Iron supplements may benefit the behavioral development of newborns with low birth weight
Date: 2012-12-10 15:16:09
Recent research conducted by Staffan Berglund, M.D., Ph.D., has found that giving iron supplements to smaller than usual babies may help prevent behavioral problems, reported Reuters.... Full Story

Pesticides in drinking water can cause food allergies
Date: 2012-12-03 17:18:54
A recent study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has found that pesticides in drinking water, which contain a chemical known as dichlorophenol, may be the culprit of some food allergies.... Full Story

Statins and physical fitness decrease risk of cholesterol-related death
Date: 2012-11-28 17:27:22
A recent study led by Peter Kokkinos from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which analyzed the records of more than 10 million veterans, found that combining cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins with physical fitness may be the most effective way to reduce the chance of dying from dyslipidaemia, report Medical News Today. Dyslipidaemia is a condition in which patients experience high levels of cholesterol and blood fats.... Full Story

Cause of high blood pressure in expectant mothers revealed
Date: 2012-11-28 14:00:03
Medical News Today reported that recent research conducted at the Max Delbrück Center and the Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch in Germany has found an enzyme that may be linked to preeclampsia, a disorder that is most commonly found in pregnant women, which causes a sudden increase in blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), preeclampsia can cause bleeding, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus, stroke and death.... Full Story

Americans consume excessive calories from alcohol
Date: 2012-11-16 14:59:43
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many Americans unknowingly consume large amounts of empty calories on a daily basis from beer, wine and hard alcohol, reported My Health News Daily. Males between 20 and 39 years old usually have the highest average daily intake of calories from alcohol - 175 - while women of the same age range tend to drink approximately 60 calories from alcoholic beverages a day. One of the researchers also noted that nearly 20 percent of men and 6 percent of women consume more than 300 calories from alcohol daily.... Full Story

Six sodium rich foods to be aware of
Date: 2012-11-09 17:48:14
To mark National Eating Healthy Day on Nov. 7, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a list of six sodium-rich foods, also known as the "Salty Six," that are commonly found in peoples' diets.... Full Story

Signs of aging may be a predictor of heart disease
Date: 2012-11-07 16:52:52
Research recently presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012 shows that a receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of the head, creases in the ear lobes and xanthelasmata - a condition in which fatty deposits form around the eyelids - may indicate a greater risk of heart attack and heart disease.... Full Story

Close proximity to a bar may encourage drinking habit
Date: 2012-11-05 18:03:59
Reuters has reported that research conducted in Finland found that the proximity of a bar from someone's home may be linked to increased levels of alcohol consumption.... Full Story

New intervention shown to reduce the effects of autism
Date: 2012-10-30 14:33:07
A new study, published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has revealed that a new intervention system, which utilizes a combination of therapy approaches, called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) may be helpful in normalizing brain activity in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).... Full Story

Numerous factors contribute to rising healthcare costs
Date: 2012-10-29 12:36:19
According to a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, the United States' healthcare costs are more than $2.6 trillion, which is greater than any other country in the world. The rising price of healthcare does not have one cause, and there are a myriad of factors that contribute to the increased expense of staying healthy.... Full Story

Cystic fibrosis gene carrier ordered to leave middle school
Date: 2012-10-21 19:29:18
Colman Chadam, an 11-year-old new student at Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, California, has been ordered by school officials to transfer to another school district three miles away because he carries the genetic mutation linked to cystic fibrosis, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.... Full Story

Supplements may interfere with prescription drugs
Date: 2012-10-24 16:51:04
New research published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reveals that certain herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) may cause harmful side effects in patients who are taking prescription drugs.... Full Story

Gastric band may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease
Date: 2012-10-23 16:16:10
A new study published online in the journal Heart, showed that bariatric surgery, which includes getting a restrictive band placed around the stomach and gastric bypass surgery, may reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels, which can be detected with cholesterol testing.... Full Story

Nutrition may affect adolescents' fitness levels
Date: 2012-08-13 15:01:15
For parents who are worried about their children's health status, blood testing can reveal information about factors such as cholesterol, blood sugar and nutrient deficiencies. New research suggests that low levels of certain vitamins and minerals may be associated with poor physical fitness among adolescents.... Full Story

College students need to be careful of weight gain
Date: 2012-08-02 14:28:21
Individuals who have weight problems should consider regular blood testing to assess their cardiovascular risks. According to one dietitian, this may include individuals who are about to enter their first year of college. This population tends not to have the best health habits.... Full Story

Researchers find link between cigarettes and osteoporosis
Date: 2012-07-27 13:19:07
Toxins in cigarette smoke may increase the production of two proteins that help drive the bone-wasting disease known as osteoporosis. These findings suggest that smokers may benefit from a lab test to measure their risk for this illness.... Full Story

Excessive iodine consumption during pregnancy increases babies' risk of hypothyroidism
Date: 2012-07-26 14:41:08
A series of studies published in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that babies are more likely to develop congenital hypothyroidism if their mothers consumed excessive amounts of iodine during pregnancy. A lab test can help expectant women figure out whether they have healthy levels of this nutrient.... Full Story

Researchers speak out over cholesterol testing guidelines for children
Date: 2012-07-23 15:58:32
Cholesterol tests for kids can go a long way in letting parents know about their child's potential health issues, allowing moms and dads to take early, proactive measures against poor heart health. However, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are suggesting that widespread blood lipid screening among youth may not be necessary.... Full Story

Scientists recommend increase to RDA of vitamin C
Date: 2012-07-17 13:07:54
Researchers from Oregon State University suggest that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C needs to be higher than current guidelines. This conclusion may be relevant to individuals who are identified as deficient in this nutrient by a lab test.... Full Story

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