Category Archives: Health and Beauty

How to Be Positive Thinking

Patients with coronary heart disease who have positive expectations about recovery, expressing beliefs such as “I can still live a long and healthy life,” had greater long-term survival, researchers reported.

Among a cohort of almost 3,000 patients undergoing coronary angiography, those with the highest expectations for outcomes actually had the best outcomes, Dr. John C. Barefoot, and colleagues from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

“Patients differ widely in terms of their psychological reactions to major illnesses such as coronary heart disease,” Barefoot’s group explained online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Related: Should I Have an Angiogram?

To explore the specific potential influence of recovery expectations, rather than overall optimistic personality traits, the investigators enrolled 2,818 patients with clinically significant disease and followed them for about 15 years.

Recovery expectations were assessed on the Expectations for Coping Scale, in which patients agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I doubt that I will ever fully recover from my heart problems” and “My heart condition will have little or no effect on my ability to do work.”

Patients were stratified into quartiles according to their expectation scores.

After adjustment for multiple variables, the mortality rate in the highest quartile — the most optimistic group — was 32 per 100 versus 46 per 100, respectively, “illustrating a substantial magnitude of this effect even after taking multiple covariates into account,” Barefoot and colleagues observed.

“These observations add to a compelling body of evidence that endorsing optimistic expectations for one’s future heart health is associated with clinically important benefits to cardiovascular outcomes,” Dr. Robert Gramling, and Dr. Ronald Epstein, of the University of Rochester in New York, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.

“The degrees of evidence observed in these studies suggest that optimism is a powerful ‘drug’ that compares favorably with highly effective medical therapies,” they wrote.

Other experts advised caution, however.

“Like all observational studies, unmeasured patient characteristics may have contributed to the better outcomes,” observed Dr. Steven E. Nissen, of the Cleveland Clinic.

“Patients with a ‘positive’ attitude may simply be healthier than patients with a negative attitude. In fact, their ‘attitude’ may reflect their health status,” Nissen wrote to MedPage Today and ABC News in an e-mail.

Two “plausible” hypotheses can help explain the study findings, according to Barefoot and colleagues.

First, patients who are optimistic may use more effective strategies to cope with recovery from illness, by addressing the problem and reducing risk factors.

Second, patients whose outlook is more negative may experience worse stress that in turn could have harmful cardiac effects.

Happiness is healthy body

images-7Suze Orman has been called many things: an uber brand, a pop culture icon, a New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy award winner, one of Forbes magazine’s most powerful women in America, one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world, Oprah’s money guru, America’s money lady, and the list goes on. For me personally, she embodies all those things, but most importantly I am proud to call her a trusted friend and mentor.

It’s for this reason that as I assumed my new role as “inspiration editor” for EverydayHealth.com, Suze was my first call. Every month I’ll be doing interviews with some of the most … well … inspiring people in the world, and I knew that Suze would provide me with brilliant information while still being patient and tolerant enough to be my very first “celebrity” interview.

And so we begin on a Friday evening. She’s just flown back to her home in Florida after wrapping up an exhilarating speaking engagement where she brought more than 600 inner-city teens to their feet in uproarious applause. This is the tail end of her book tour for her latest best seller, The Money Class. I presumed she’d be exhausted due to her breakneck schedule, but I was wrong!

In typical Suze fashion it begins with a smack-down. “Jillian, as your mentor I need to stress that whenever you are doing an interview and you are recording somebody you should get them on tape giving you permission to record.” So without hesitation I ask, “Suze, do I have your permission to record?” “You most certainly do. Okay, go on, sweetheart,” she replies. And now we are off to the races.

A little history lesson: I remember watching TV late one night and coming across one of Suze’s PBS specials. This is when she hooked me. She told a compelling tale about how she went from rags to riches that left me feeling like I myself could conquer the world. So in case you missed it, this is where we begin…

Jillian Michaels: We have come to accept you as America’s money guru, but that wasn’t always the case. With so many feeling lost in life, can you share with us the path that led you to your true calling?

Suze Orman: That question can be answered in so many ways. But here is the story I think you are after. I went to the University of Illinois from 1969-1973, and after four years I decided I was going to strike out and see the world. I borrowed $1,500 from my brother Bobby and bought a used Ford Econoline van. I drove out to Berkeley, Calif., where I lived in that van on the streets for about four months. I didn’t have enough money to pay for the first and last months’ rent for an apartment until I landed my dream job as a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery. I worked there from the age of 23 to 30. So for seven years I worked for $400 a month as a waitress until I got this brainstorm that I could open my own restaurant.

I asked my parents for $20,000 and they didn’t have that kind of money to give to me. I went to work the next day and Fred Hasbrook, one of the people I had waited on for seven years, came into the bakery and asked me, “What’s wrong, Sunshine? You don’t look happy.” I told him the story. To make a long story short, all the people that I had been waiting on for all those years rallied together and gave me $50,000 to open up my own restaurant. I didn’t know what to do with that money and they told me to go down and put it in a money market account with Merrill Lynch and let it sit there until I learned what to do to open up a restaurant.

Again to make a long story short the broker who took that money ended up trading it in one of the most speculative strategies around — the options market — and within three months lost all $50,000. I didn’t know what to do so I thought, well, I can be a broker, they just make you a broker. So I went and I interviewed for a job at Merrill Lynch because I knew that I would never be able to pay back that $50,000 making $400 a month. They didn’t have any women working for Merrill Lynch in the Oakland office at that time as stockbrokers, so when I ended up in the manager’s office, this is what he said to me “Suze, women belong barefoot and pregnant. I will hire you, but you will be out of here in six months.” So I asked him how much he was going to pay me to make me pregnant. When he said $1,500 a month, I said, I’ll take it — and before you knew it I was learning how to be a stockbroker. To this day I think they hired me to fill their women’s quota, but regardless I was on my way.

How to Get All Your Brain Power

download-16Nearly your entire brain is engaged in striving for success when you play games, according to a new study.

The finding that many more brain regions besides the reward centers activate in an attempt to win games, such as rock-paper-scissors, makes sense in terms of evolution, the Yale University researchers noted.

“Our brain functions to maximize the chance of survival and reproduction, so reward should be important for all cognitive functions, and thus most brain regions,” lead author Timothy Vickery, a postdoctoral fellow in the psychology department, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues used a special pattern analysis technique to examine functional MRI scans of volunteers as they won and lost games. The results showed that wins and losses were recognizable in nearly all areas of the brain.

The study appears in the Oct. 6 issue of the journal Neuron.

“To offer some perspective, the Kenyan refugee camps are located more than 50 miles from the Somalian border,” explains Ella Gudwin, vice president of emergency response for AmeriCares, one of the few relief organizations able to mobilize in the devastated region. “What breaks my heart are the not-uncommon stories of people leaving their dying children and elderly parents behind as they push forward in the crushing heat to save the rest of their families.”

In August, AmeriCares landed its first of several emergency aid air shipments to Mogadishu, the war-torn capital. These desperately needed airlifts are supplying nutritional supplements, basic medicines and medical supplies to the health clinics and mobile medical teams that have scrambled to treat the swelling refugee population in and around the capital. Your donation will help keep the food and medicine flowing to those who need them.

The Affect of Brain Activity

Holding a cell phone to your ear for a long period of time increases activity in parts of the brain close to the antenna, researchers have found.

Glucose metabolism — that’s a measurement of how the brain uses energy — in these areas increased significantly when the phone was turned on and muted, compared with when it was off, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Although we cannot determine the clinical significance, our results give evidence that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields from acute cell phone exposures,” co-author Dr. Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, where the study was conducted, told MedPage Today.

Although the study can’t draw conclusions about long-term implications, other researchers are calling the findings significant.

“Clearly there is an acute effect, and the important question is whether this acute effect is associated with events that may be damaging to the brain or predispose to the development of future problems such as cancer as suggested by recent epidemiological studies,” Dr. Santosh Kesari, director of neuro-oncology at the University of California San Diego, said in an e-mail to MedPage Today and ABC News.

There have been many population-based studies evaluating the potential links between brain cancer and cellphone use, and the results have often been inconsistent or inconclusive.

Most recently, the anticipated Interphone study was interpreted as “implausible” because some of its statistics revealed a significant protective effect for cell phone use. On the other hand, the most intense users had an increased risk of glioma — but the researchers called their level of use “unrealistic.”

But few researchers have looked at the actual physiological effects that radiofrequency and electromagnetic fields from the devices can have on brain tissue. Some have shown that blood flow can be increased in specific brain regions during cell phone use, but there’s been little work on effects at the level of the brain’s neurons.

So Dr. Volkow and colleagues conducted a crossover study at Brookhaven National Laboratory, enrolling 47 patients who had one cell phone placed on each ear while they lay in a PET scanner for 50 minutes.

The researchers scanned patients’ brain glucose metabolism twice — once with the right cell phone turned on but muted, and once with both phones turned off.

There was no difference in whole-brain metabolism whether the phone was on or off.

Somalia Problem tips

download-17In the midst of one of the most brutal civil conflicts the world has ever witnessed, the people of Somalia are starving. The worst drought in 60 years has decimated livestock and crops. More than 70 percent of the population is in crisis. More than 30 percent of the children are suffering from acute malnutrition. Those who can are fleeing the country, often walking hundreds of miles across the parched desert into Kenya and Ethiopia.

“To offer some perspective, the Kenyan refugee camps are located more than 50 miles from the Somalian border,” explains Ella Gudwin, vice president of emergency response for AmeriCares, one of the few relief organizations able to mobilize in the devastated region. “What breaks my heart are the not-uncommon stories of people leaving their dying children and elderly parents behind as they push forward in the crushing heat to save the rest of their families.”

In August, AmeriCares landed its first of several emergency aid air shipments to Mogadishu, the war-torn capital. These desperately needed airlifts are supplying nutritional supplements, basic medicines and medical supplies to the health clinics and mobile medical teams that have scrambled to treat the swelling refugee population in and around the capital. Your donation will help keep the food and medicine flowing to those who need them.

AmeriCares is unique in its ability to aid the Somali relief network. Hampered by ground violence, piracy and diplomatic red tape, the vast majority of non-governmental relief organizations have been limited in their efforts to deliver food and supplies. But thanks to a long-cultivated partnership network of established clinics and medical organizations, AmeriCares has been able to sidestep these obstacles and mobilize effectively.

Indeed, for the past three decades, AmeriCares has donated more than $11.5 million in aid to local partner organizations in Somalia, including more than $3 million in medicines, nutritional supplements and vitamins during the last major drought and food crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Follow-up shipments containing additional nutritional supplements, water purification kits and targeted medicines and supplies is already on track to depart within the next month.

“With tens of thousands of people crowded into squalid, unsanitary conditions, disease can spread like wildfire,” said AmeriCares senior vice president of global programs Christoph Gorder. “By providing antibiotics that fight infections and other basic medicines and supplies, AmeriCares will save countless lives.”

Everyday Health For All is partnering with AmeriCares to provide aid to those who need it in Somalia and around the world.

Japan Live Tips

The survivors of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami are in critical need of medicine, medical attention, and shelter. Everyday Health is supporting AmeriCares’ relief mission — and your donation is desperately needed.

More than a week after the terrifying earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, accounts of both devastation and hope keep rolling in. As the official death toll has climbed to more than 18,000, inspiring survival stories — such as that of teenager Jin Abe and his grandmother Sumi, who were trapped in a collapsed wooden home in Ishinomaki for nine days before rescue workers heard Jin’s cries for help — have surfaced too.

Such survivors need our help now more than ever, and it’s not too late to contribute. Everyday Health members have so far donated almost $30,000 in aid to AmeriCares, a non-profit aid organization with an emergency response team on the ground in Tokyo and Sendai setting up deliveries of crucial supplies to people who lost their homes and everything they own. AmeriCares’ emergency response manager Michelle Jackson’s first-person account reaffirms why we need to keep giving.

“At one shelter, a doctor pleaded for more medicines and supplies, saying that people are getting very anxious,” says Jackson, who arrived the day after the earthquake and is overseeing a small team to identify the needs of the nearly 300,000 Japanese people living in shelters (often without heat and power) to ensure they get health care.

Jackson says that families packed into small shelters are worried about the possible spread of infectious diseases, and how they’ll get resupplied with the crucial medications they need to take regularly. For example, one woman requires seven medications to treat her hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems. Since the evacuation, she’s only been able to take three. At another shelter, the AmeriCares team encountered people who haven’t had access to any of their medications for a week.

At one hospital in Fukushima (within a 12.5-mile radius of the nuclear plant), just 12 staff members of the 200 regularly employed there remain to care for the elderly patients who could not be evacuated.

It’s these people — who have lost their homes and family members and who are going without medications, blankets, and daily essentials — who gravely need our help.

To contribute money to help meet these critical needs, go to Americares.org or text “Live” to 25383 to make a $10 donation.

The benefit of beer for your health

Beer drinkers, take note: Your favorite pint may be healthier than you realize. When it comes to good-for-you happy hour beverages, we tend to think mainly of red wine and its heart-friendly antioxidants. Recent research, however, reveals that beer may also help what ales you, from reducing the risk of osteoporosis to beating brain fog.

But before you go on a beer binge, remember that moderation is key to reap its health perks. That means no more than two 12-ounce beers a day for men and one for women. “If you overdo it, alcohol can take a toll on your health, contributing to liver damage, certain cancers, heart problems, and more,” says Andrea Giancoli, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. People with certain health conditions — including gout, high triglycerides, or breast cancer, for example — should avoid drinking beer or other alcohol because it can exacerbate those health problems, according to Joy Bauer, RD, nutrition and health expert for Everyday Health and The Today Show.

Too much alcohol can also cause weight gain. After multiple rounds, calories can add up quickly (a 12-ounce regular beer can pack up to 150 calories, while a light beer has around 100).

But for most of us, here are five healthy reasons to toast your next beer:

Beer Boost No. 1: A Stronger Skeleton

Make no bones about it: Beer in moderation may protect bone health thanks to its high silicon content. Participants who sipped one or two beers a day had greater bone mineral density than those who drank more or fewer beers, found a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Silicon helps stimulate bone-building cells, and the estrogenic effect of alcohol also has a protective quality for bones,” says study author Katherine Tucker, PhD, professor of nutritional epidemiology at Northeastern University in Boston. Which brew boasts the most silicon? Try an India Pale Ale. A 2010 University of California Davis study found that IPAs had the highest levels of the mineral.

Beer Boost No. 2: A More Powerful Ticker

A beer a day may keep heart disease away. “Alcohol raises levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol,” says Arthur Klatsky, MD, senior consultant in cardiology at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. “It also has anti-clotting effects, which keeps blood vessels clear and healthy.” In fact, Israeli researchers found that people who drank one beer daily had lower levels of fibrinogen, a protein that helps promote blood clotting, than those who abstained from drinking. (Blood clots can cause heart attack and stroke.) Study participants drank Maccabee beer, but researchers believe that any type of beer could have similar heart-healthy effects.

Beer Boost No. 3: Healthier Kidneys

Finnish researchers found that men who drank beer had a 40 percent lower risk ofkidney stones compared to those who drank other types of alcohol. The benefit may be due to beer’s high water content. Dehydration can increase the risk of kidney stones, which are little deposits of salt and minerals such as calcium that can form in your kidneys. Beer’s hops (a kind of flower that gives beer its bitter flavor and acts as a preservative) may also help prevent kidney stones by slowing the release of calcium from bones.

Talking About Recovery Continues

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is walking with assistance, mouthing the words to songs, and speaking simple sentences as she recovers afterbeing shot through the head at a public event on Jan. 8, according to reports from friends, family, and the congresswoman’s staff.

Although doctors have not provided an update on Giffords’ condition since she began full-time rehabilitation on Jan. 26 at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Memorial Hermann in Houston, a report in the New York Times noted that she has lip-synched words to several songs and is walking the halls with assistance.

A spokesman from the congresswoman’s office confirmed the information from theTimes report for MedPage Today.

Experts contacted by ABC News and MedPage Today said reports of her progress are about what would be expected for someone with a good recovery pattern.

“Her overall recovery seems good but perhaps not overly surprising for someone who regained consciousness so quickly after her injury,” according to Dr. Shari Wade, of the division of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Giffords was reportedly able to respond to requests immediately after the shooting and shortly before undergoing surgery at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., where she was treated before moving to Houston for rehabilitation.

“Duration of unconsciousness is the single best predictor of recovery,” Wade explained in an e-mail, “and someone who is unconscious for a few hours or a few days will recover much more rapidly and more completely than someone who is unconscious for a month or more.”

According to Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, chair of the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America, “her recovery curve is somewhat rapid but is what we expect to see when someone has the benefit of a comprehensive inpatient rehab program immediately after their brain injury and receives therapies from an experienced team in an aggressive program.”

Singing during rehabilitation is often used as a way to stimulate language functions, which are largely located in the left hemisphere. The ability to sing is largely located in the right hemisphere. Giffords was shot through the left side of the brain, leaving the right side untouched.

“The intonation or inflection in speech, called prosody, is a function of the right hemisphere of the brain and has regions analogous to propositional language … in the left hemisphere,” O’Shanick wrote in an e-mail. “When working with patients like [Congresswoman] Giffords, the use of melodic intonation to sing or speak is used to stimulate both regions.”

Dr. Joel Stein, chair of the department of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University, said the “essential idea is to sing the intended statement, rather than merely say it. It has some value, but provides only limited benefit to most individuals with this condition.”

The fact that Giffords is singing is a hopeful sign, added Dr. Paul Schulz, a neurologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center, “but would be less significant than the degree to which she is talking.”

The report in the New York Times stated that Giffords has lip-synched to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby” as friends and family members sang. She has also been videotaped mouthing “Happy Birthday to You” for her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

According to Giffords’ chief of staff Pia Carusone, the congresswoman recently spoke with Kelly’s twin brother Scott, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, saying “Hi, I’m good.” “It’s not like she’s speaking the way she spoke, but she is vocalizing and making progress every day,” Carusone was quoted as saying by theTimes.

All about health that you need for

A health emergency, an emergency room visit, or a long illness can set you back financially if you are not prepared. Learn how to set up a health savings fund to cover things your health insurance might not.

Even with good health insurance, a health emergency or a prolonged illness can be a financial disaster. Health insurance deductibles, co-payments, emergency room costs, and other costs of illness can add up in a hurry.

A health savings account (HSA) is one way you can put aside tax-free money for a health emergency. HSAs were established in 2003. If you are covered by a type of insurance known as a high-deductible insurance plan, you can make tax-deductible contributions to an HSA. Your employer may also make tax-deductible contributions.

11 Weird Body Quirks—Explained!

“An HSA account is very different from having a general emergency fund account,” says Joseph J. Porco, managing member of the Financial Security Group, LLC, in Newtown, Conn. “An emergency fund is about more than just out-of-pocket medical expenses. If possible, it’s a good idea to have both.”

How Much of an Emergency Fund Do You Need?

For an older adult, a health emergency might result in the need for long-term care, possibly for the rest of the senior’s life. For a young adult supporting a family, a medical emergency might be much more than just the cost of illness. Your health emergency could cause a disability that results in loss of income over an extended period. That means you should save enough to cover all your expenses.

“Most advisers would say you should have enough emergency funds saved to cover your family expenses for three to six months. I would recommend trying to put enough aside to cover all your expenses, not just health expenses, for 6 to 12 months,” says Porco.

How much you need for a health emergency and how much you can actually put into an emergency fund will depend on your family size, your income, your health status, and your age. But your first step is to understand your health insurance situation.

“The best way to start is to sit down with a financial adviser and figure out what your insurance actually covers and what it doesn’t cover. What are your insurance limits? What kind of medical bills might arise that you would be responsible for? Get some expert advice on how best to cover your actual needs,” advises Porco.

9 Surprising Things That Can Make You Sick

What Insurance May Not Cover

How much insurance companies actually pay for accidents, cancer treatment, or surgery depends on what kind of insurance you have, but there are usually limits. Here are some facts to consider:

  • Cost of illness. Most insurance companies have a cap on how much they will pay for a long-term illness. A recent survey found that 10 percent of people with cancer have hit their lifetime cap and are no longer covered by insurance. Looking forward, however, the new health care reform law will eliminate caps on lifetime insurance by 2014.
  • Emergency room cost. If you have an accident that requires emergency treatment and you end up in an emergency room outside your insurance network, you may not be covered. One study found that HMOs in California denied one out of every six claims for emergency room costs.
  • Surgical coverage. You may be surprised at what your insurance company considers non-covered surgery. There can be a big gray area between covered “reconstructive” surgery and uncovered “cosmetic” surgery. Even when surgery is covered, your deductible may be $500 or more, and you may still be responsible for up to 25 percent or more of surgical costs, depending on the specifics of your plan.

The risk of head injuries

The risk of death after head injury remained significantly increased for as long as 13 years, irrespective of the severity of the injury, results of a case-control study showed.

Overall, patients with a history of head injury had more than a twofold greater risk of death than did two control groups of individuals without head injury.

Among young adults, the risk disparity ballooned to more than a fivefold difference, Scottish investigators reported online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

“More than 40% of young people and adults admitted to hospital in Glasgow after a head injury were dead 13 years later,” Dr. Thomas M. McMillan, of the University of Glasgow, and coauthors wrote in the discussion of their findings. “This stark finding is not explained by age, gender, or deprivation characteristics.”

“As might be expected following an injury, the highest rate of death occurred in the first year after head injury,” they continued. “However, risk of death remained high for at least a further 12 years when, for example, death was 2.8 times more likely after head injury than for community controls.”

Previous studies of mortality after head injury have focused primarily on early death, either during hospitalization or in the first year after the injury. Whether the excess mortality risk persists over time has remained unclear, the authors noted.

Few studies have compared mortality after head injury with expected mortality in the community. To provide that missing context, McMillan and coauthors conducted a case-control study involving 757 patients who incurred head injuries of varying severity from February 1995 to February 1996 and were admitted to a Glasgow-area hospital.

For comparison, the investigators assembled two control groups, both matched with the cases for age, sex, and socioeconomic status and one matched for duration of hospitalization after injury not involving the head.

One control group was comprised of persons hospitalized for other injured and other comparison group included healthy non-hospitalized adults.

The cases comprised 602 men and 155 women who had a mean age of 43, and almost 70 percent were in the lowest socioeconomic quintile.

At the end of follow-up, 305 of the head-injured patients had died, compared with 215 of the hospitalized control group, and 135 of healthy, non-hospitalized adults.

Mortality after one year remained significantly higher in the head-injury group—34 percent versus 24 percent among the hospitalized comparison group and 16 percent for the healthy non-hospitalized adults.

Overall, the head-injury group had a death rate of 30.99/1,000/ year versus 13.72/1,000/year in the community controls and 21.85/1,000/year in the hospitalized-other injury control group.

The disparity was greater among younger adults (15 to 54), who had a rate of 17.36/1,000/year versus 2.21/1,000/year in the community controls. Older adults in the head injury group had a death rate of 61.47/1,000/year compared with 39.45/1,000/year in the community controls.

“Demographic factors do not explain the risk of death late after head injury, and there is a need to further consider factors that might lead to health vulnerability after head injury and in this way explain the range of causes of death,” the authors wrote in conclusion. “The elevated risk of mortality after mild head injury and in younger adults makes further study in this area a priority.”