Archive for October, 2010

Patrick J. Skerrett
Peter Wehrwein

Halloween candy

Trick or treat? It’s really a rhetorical question. They just want the Halloween candy. Millions of American children will get billions of sugar- and fat-laden treats on Sunday night in a tradition that has its roots in pagan and Christian rituals. It’s fun. The kids are outside, walking. And, gosh, they’re cute in their princess and pirate costumes. But nutritionally and dentally speaking, the […]

Anthony Komaroff, M.D.

This week from HHP: The science of fright

Crisp autumn weather, flickering jack-o-lanterns, costumed children trick-or-treating—and a good fright or two—make for a great Halloween. What is it about getting scared by a haunted house, a roller coaster, or a bungee jump that some people find exhilarating and others find downright frightening? It could be how you are wired, writes Dr. Robert Shmerling […]

Ann MacDonald

Painkillers and drug addiction: An ongoing dilemma

On October 16, 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren, a renowned surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, removed a tumor from a printer named Gilbert Abbott. The operation was noteworthy for one reason: Abbott did not scream out in pain, as virtually every surgical patient did in those days. The age of anesthesia was born. A Boston […]

Ann MacDonald
Patrick J. Skerrett

Medical journals: Stop being so passive

Reading medical journals is the main occupational hazard I face as editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. This task is like parachuting into a desert at high noon—I drop into a barren, colorless landscape and then struggle across dry, soporific terrain. The content isn’t to blame; it is usually interesting, and is sometimes even compelling. […]

Peter Wehrwein

Stem cell progress: Turning skin cells into heart cells

Embryonic stem cell research continues to be a political and legal hot potato that stirs up a lot of emotion and argument. In the meantime, researchers are making some remarkable progress using an alternative stem cell approach called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs (sometimes that gets  shortened to iPS). An induced pluripotent stem cell is an adult cell, often a skin cell, […]

Patrick J. Skerrett
Peter Wehrwein

Kiss-kiss CPR: The mouth-to-mouth part may not be needed

The advice to “keep it simple, stupid”—kiss, kiss—seems to apply to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But with CPR, kiss-kiss means no mouth-to-mouth contact. A study published in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) adds to the evidence that the old way of doing CPR—alternating chest compressions with blows into the mouth—is needlessly complicated in most cases (there are exceptions, which we will get into below). Instead, this study and others (The New England […]

Patrick J. Skerrett

Are drugs lurking in your dietary supplements?

Another day, another safety alert from the FDA that a so-called dietary supplement or natural herbal remedy actually contains a drug. That’s the eighth such warning in the last three months (see FDA warnings). The latest one warns that products marketed as “natural testosterone boosters” or sex enhancers, including Arom-X, 4-AD, Decavol, and Reversitol, contain […]