Health Capsules — $2 million-plus for cancer research
$2 million-plus for cancer research
The final tally is in: Pedal the Cause 2012 brought in $2,057,200 for Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, thanks to the combined efforts of more than 1,850 bicyclists, 800 volunteers and 15,000 donors. The event was held the weekend of Oct. 6-7, and according to Pedal the Cause Executive Director Jay Indovino, this year’s ride was the most successful yet.
Mercy using new cardiac catheter procedure
Mercy Hospital St. Louis is using a new type of catheter for patients undergoing cardiac catheterization. Mercy is the first area hospital to use the Atrium ClearWay RX catheter – a porous balloon catheter that is inserted into a vessel, enabling direct delivery of medication into a blocked artery. Compared to standard therapies for heart attack patients, the ClearWay RX was shown in a clinical trial to save more heart muscle.
Traditionally, patients undergoing cardiac catheterization are prescribed blood thinners to dissolve/prevent clots, but many patients do not take the medication, which can result in a return to the hospital and perhaps another heart attack.
According to Dr. George Kichura, Mercy Clinic cardiologist and medical director of Mercy Hospital St. Louis cardiac catheterization lab, putting the medication directly into the heart has been shown to reduce the need for additional medical procedures.
Mercy adopted the catheter to address the fact that nationwide, 20 percent of heart attack patients are readmitted to hospitals within 30 days. The hospital is one of several taking part in a multi-site registry to review the impact of using ClearWay RX on reducing 30-day readmissions for heart attack patients.
Beware of the Salty Six
Most of us are aware that eating too much salt can create all sorts of health problems, but the average American consumes more than twice the recommended daily amount of 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
To help people control their sodium intake, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has compiled a list of common foods that may be loaded with excess sodium that can increase risk for heart disease and stroke. Following are the Salty Six – the top sources of sodium in today’s diet:
• Breads and rolls. Bread may not taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. Eat two sandwiches in one day, and the bread alone could put you close to 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
• Cold cuts and cured meats. Deli or pre-packaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium, which is added to most cooked meats to prevent spoilage.
• Pizza. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium, so two can send you over the daily recommendation.
• Poultry. Sodium levels in poultry vary based on preparation methods, so it is important to choose wisely. Reasonable portions of lean, skinless, grilled chicken are OK but may contain an added sodium solution. Three ounces of frozen, breaded chicken nuggets can add nearly 600 milligrams of sodium.
• Soup. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 milligrams of sodium, and remember, soup cans typically contain more than one serving.
• Sandwiches. This covers everything from grilled cheese to hamburgers. We already know that breads and cured meats may be heavy on the sodium. Add them together, then add a little ketchup or mustard and you can easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one sitting.
More reasons to drink milk
According to a new study published in Age & Aging, drinking plenty of milk as a child can improve physical ability and balance in older age.
Using historical diet records from two large studies, British researchers examined the childhood habits of 1,500 men aged 62-86 and measured the impact of milk, protein, calcium and fat intake on their current mobility and balance. They found that calcium, protein and milk consumption in childhood were linked to mobility advantages in adulthood.
Milk has long been recognized for its bone-building benefits, but the British study was the first to demonstrate that drinking milk can result in a lifelong, improved physical performance level.
Maternal flu-autism link
Researchers cannot say with certainty that there is a connection between a mother getting the flu or spiking a fever during pregnancy and her child’s risk of autism, but results of one study suggest further investigation is important.
A study of more than 96,000 Danish children born between 1997 and 2003 examined the relationship between maternal infection, fever and antibiotic use during pregnancy. Children of mothers who reported having influenza while pregnant had double the risk of an autism diagnosis before the age of 3, and children of mothers who had a fever lasting a week or longer during pregnancy had three times the risk of autism.
Authors of the study, “Autism After Infection, Febrile Episodes, and Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy: An Exploratory Study,” said the findings could be coincidental but warrant additional research.
Soy for hot flashes
There have been lots of studies on the ability of soy to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, but researchers’ findings have been inconsistent. Results of a study recently presented at the North American Menopause Society 2012 annual meeting may explain the discrepancies.
Researchers at the Group Health Research Institute, University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center were the first to examine equol production and the effect of soy consumption in menopausal women. Equol is produced from the natural metabolism of an isoflavone found in whole soybeans, but because the ability to produce equol depends on the types of bacteria present in the large intestine, not everyone can produce it after eating soy.
The researchers found that eating more soy was linked to greater reductions of menopausal vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes, among women whose bodies can convert soy to equol. About 50 percent of Asians and 20-30 percent of North Americans and Europeans have the ability to produce equol, researchers said.
Hip replacement and stroke risk
According to new research published in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association, during the weeks after undergoing total hip replacement, older patients are at increased risk of suffering a stroke.
“This is the first study to evaluate the risk of stroke in patients undergoing total hip replacement compared to people in the general population who did not undergo the surgery, but were matched for age, sex and geographical region,” said Frank de Vries, Ph.D., Pharm.D., the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
The study involved a comparison of more than 66,000 patients who had undergone total hip replacement with nearly 200,000 who had not. Study participants averaged 72 years of age.
During the first two weeks following surgery, the study showed a nearly 4.7-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke, which is caused by artery blockage, and 4.4-fold increased risk of hemorrahagic stroke, caused by bleeding in the brain.
“Up to one year following surgery, there is diminishing risk of stroke after six to 12 weeks,” de Vries said. “At one year, the stroke risk is comparable to those who did not undergo surgery.”
The study looked also at the role of various medications in reducing the risk of stroke and found that patients using aspirin had a lower risk of stroke by as much as 70 percent, compared to those not taking aspirin.
Researchers suggested that elderly patients weigh the benefits of total hip replacement surgery against the risk of stroke.
Visible signs of aging may predict heart problems
People whose appearance includes certain signs of aging may have an increased risk of heart trouble, a new study shows.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark analyzed more than 10,000 patients age 40 and older and found that those with three to four aging signs – receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the head’s crown, earlobe crease, or yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid – had a 57 percent increased risk for heart attack and a 39 percent increased risk for heart disease.
Individually and combined, the four signs predicted heart problems independent of traditional risk factors. Fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest individual predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.
Heart attack and heart disease risk increased with each additional sign of aging in all age groups and among men and women. The highest risk was for those in their 70s and those with multiple signs of aging, researchers said.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
Virtual reality meets physical reality
A study by a University of Missouri researcher indicates that playing interactive, online games can improve a person’s health and appearance and perhaps be utilized to develop new forms of obesity treatment.
When a person identifies strongly with their cyber representation – an avatar – that person’s electronic counterpart can influence his or her physical reality, according to Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, assistant of communication at MU’s College of Arts and Science.
“The creation of an avatar allows an individual to try on a new appearance and persona, with little risk or effort,” Behm-Morawitz said. “That alter-ego can then have a positive influence on a person’s life. For example, people could create (more fit) avatars to help visualize themselves as slimmer and healthier.”
Behm-Morawitz questioned 279 users of a virtual reality community about their engagement with their avatar, relationships they developed online, their offline health, appearance and emotional well-being. The degree to which users experienced their avatars as an extension of themselves predicted the influence of the avatar on people’s physical reality.
The study, “Mirrored selves: The influence of self-presence in a virtual world on health, appearance and well-being,” was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
On the calendar
ElderLink St. Louis will offer a free caregiver support group from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3 at Congregation B’nai Amoona, 324 S. Mason Road. A social work professional will facilitate, and all are welcome. To register, call (314) 812-9300, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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An Alzheimer’s support group meets from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20 at Parc Provence, 605 Coeur De Ville Drive in Creve Coeur. The Alzheimer’s Association sanctions the group. To register, call (314) 542-2500.