Prevention

Making health social: Friends and family as part of the health care team

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

Healthy choices can be hard to make, but it becomes much easier when your entire social circle helps you keep up with it. According to a recent study, engaging your friends and family in your lifestyle changes will hold you accountable, and you will be more likely to stick with those changes. Making them a regular part of your “health care team” could go a long way to maintaining your health.

Time spent in “green” places linked with longer life in women

Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

Greenery might do more than just cheer us up. A recent study shows it lowers the mortality rate in women. Green spaces decrease levels of depression and pollution while increasing levels of social engagement and physical activity. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded greenery, get out there and enjoy it more. Even urban areas can increase their greenery by planting more trees and shrubs. See if you can get your community to plant more plants. It will help everyone out in the long run.

Finding the tick in time could save you from Lyme!

Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG
Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG, Contributing Editor

Outdoor activities can be spoiled by getting Lyme disease from a tick bite. Know what to do to protect yourself (and your pets) from this infection and its unpleasant symptoms, as well as what to do if you have already been bitten. If you do end up with a tick “on board” it is important to remove it correctly and know when to call your doctor.

2017 update to the immunization schedule for kids

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

The CDC and the AAP update their vaccine recommendations every year, and here are the latest changes. These updates show just how important it is to stay on top of research and help increase the effectiveness of each vaccine. The schedule for routine immunizations and catching up kids who get behind can be found on the CDC and AAP websites if you’d like more information.

Snored to death: The symptoms and dangers of untreated sleep apnea

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

It’s important to get adequate sleep, but getting good quality sleep is just as important. Snoring can detract from a good night’s sleep whether you’re the snorer or the bed partner. Even more important, snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. Untreated, sleep apnea increases our risk for serious health conditions including stroke and heart attack.

When a nasty stomach virus strikes…

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

When one person in your household catches a stomach bug, it seems the rest of the household becomes sick almost instantly. This winter has been particularly difficult, which makes it all the more useful to know more: Why does this bug spread so quickly? And how do I prevent it?

Personalized activity intelligence: A better way to track exercise?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Small devices and smart phone apps that are designed to track fitness activities don’t necessarily provide the most accurate information. A recent Norwegian study, involving thousands of participants, has led researchers to develop a more precise method for measuring cardiovascular activity on electronic devices. Personalized Activity Intelligence, or PAI, is a formula that converts your heart rate to a number of points, based on your age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate.

What is prediabetes and why does it matter?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Considering the range and severity of health problems caused by diabetes, the focus on treating prediabetes in order to prevent it from becoming diabetes is sensible, and a large study found that it is possible. A healthy diet and adequate physical activity can help most people side step this condition. For some, medication is also necessary.

5 ways to hold on to optimism — and reap health benefits

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

Despite many Americans feeling discouraged as 2016 ended, optimism abounds for the future. Such an attitude is not just a trait of those with a sunny disposition: Research indicates that optimism can positively impact both mental and physical health. If you find yourself with a more cynical mindset, there are methods that can improve your outlook on life. We offer five ways to help you see the world through rosier glasses.

Understanding head injuries

Jonathan Nadler, MD
Jonathan Nadler, MD, Contributor

Treatment for a head injury depends on the nature of the injury, whether or not there is bleeding in the brain, whether the bleeding is coming from an artery or a vein, and several other factors. Imaging may or may not be needed and doctors rely on well-established guidelines to determine when a CT or other scan is necessary. Most important, do everything you can to avoid head injuries, including proper use of helmets.