Health

Avoid this common hazard of being in the hospital

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A hospital stay can be confusing and disorienting for anyone — but especially for older people, who are prone to episodes of delirium when in the hospital. Several hospital-based programs exist to help identify people at risk for delirium and prevent episodes before they happen. We’ve discussed one such successful program, plus listed tips to help you or your loved one avoid delirium during a hospital stay.

Exercise: It does so much more than burn calories

Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

You’ve probably heard that if you want to lose weight, it’s as simple as “eat less, exercise more.” A recent study suggests that a lot of exercise doesn’t always translate into a lot of extra calories burned. But even if you never lose a single pound with exercise, it has so many other benefits for your body and mind that it’s always worth it to be active. Give it a try today!

Physical therapy after hip replacement: Can rehab happen at home?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Hip replacement surgery is becoming increasingly common. After this type of surgery, people are required to undergo rehab to help them become stronger and steadier with their new joint. Traditionally, this has involved lots of back-and-forth to physical therapy appointments. But a new study suggests that many people may be able to do their exercises at home instead — with nearly identical results.

The latest dangerous “addiction” parents need to worry about: Mobile devices

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

If you’ve looked up from your phone recently — or even if you haven’t! — you may have noticed that many children and teens are glued to their devices. While experts aren’t quite ready to call this an “addiction,” a new survey of parents and teens confirms that many of them suspect they’re too dependent on their devices. We’ve discussed the potential implications of this, plus suggested some “ground rules” for when to ignore those devices.

Managing your emotions can save your heart

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Phrases like “I almost died of fright” aren’t just hyperbole. The heart and brain are actually intimately connected, and emotions that are strong enough to disrupt the brain’s function can also take a measurable physical toll on the heart. Of course, this means that if you can change your brain’s responses to these emotions, you can get a healthier heart in the process, too. We’ve listed some ways you can get started.

More than sad: Depression affects your ability to think

James Cartreine, PhD
James Cartreine, PhD, Contributing Editor

We often think of depression as making someone feel “down,” but it can sometimes show up as cognitive symptoms — for example, trouble with adapting to new information or thinking through a solution to a problem. Researchers recently determined that several common depression medications are not effective at relieving cognitive symptoms. But there are several things people with depression can try to help return themselves to their usual level of cognitive functioning.

Diabetes drug pioglitazone could get personal: Neither panacea, nor peril

Lori Wiviott Tishler, MD, MPH
Lori Wiviott Tishler, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Doctors are often hesitant to prescribe newer drugs. We simply can’t know everything about them until the experiences of early adopters tell us what they’re really like. Such is the case with thiazolidinediones. Some of the more recent diabetes drugs fell out of favor, but a new study suggests that may be helpful for very specific types of patients.

Mind over back pain

Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D.
Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., Contributing Editor

If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, it’s only natural to assume you have an injury. But recent research has suggested that our feelings, emotions, and behaviors may have much more to do with chronic back pain than any detectable problem with the spine — and this has just been confirmed by a study in JAMA. Here, we’ve listed what really works to help combat chronic back pain — and what you can do today to rid yourself of it.

Preventing playground injuries: The fine line between safe and overprotective

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

You may have noticed that many playgrounds are now “safer” than they used to be. It’s great to think about safety, especially since there are hundreds of thousands of playground-related injuries every year, and a significant chunk of those are brain injuries like concussions. But it’s also important not to get overprotective — some life lessons about risk and self-confidence are best learned in a fun, stimulating, well-supervised environment like a playground.

High blood pressure: Why me?

Naomi D. L. Fisher, MD
Naomi D. L. Fisher, MD, Contributor

It can be tough to accept a diagnosis of hypertension. It often causes no symptoms, and when doctors diagnose it, they often mention the consequences that may someday happen if it isn’t controlled. This can be a lot to take in if you’re feeling fine! Fortunately, hypertension is easily controlled — and staying on top of the treatment is the first step toward taming this “silent killer.”