Women’s Health

Carolyn Schatz

Mindfulness meditation improves connections in the brain

Mindfulness meditation can ease stress. It also seems to do a lot more, like help with physical and psychological problems from high blood pressure and chronic pain to anxiety and binge eating. New research shows that mindfulness meditation changes the way nerves connect.

Patrick J. Skerrett

At Harvard Forum, experts debate how much vitamin D is enough

A panel discussion at Harvard School of Public Health called “Boosting Vitamin D: Not Enough or Too Much?” highlights the current controversy over the once-overlooked sunshine vitamin. A panel of experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine recommends a daily dose of 600 IU per day for everyone from ages 1 to 70 and 800 IU for those over 70. Other experts think the IOM recommendation is too low. One way to get vitamin D is to spend a few minutes a day outside in the sun, but that’s a hot-button issue because sun exposure is a cause of skin cancer.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Understanding heart failure

Heart failure, the condition that took Elizabeth Taylor’s life, affects millions of Americans. The term “heart failure” is a scary one, conjuring up images of a heart that is suddenly unable to work. In truth, it represents a gradual decline in the heart’s ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. As the heart weakens, all parts of the body suffer the consequences. Harvard Heart Letter editor PJ Skerrett explains what heart failure is, how it affects the body, and what can be done to treat it.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Oh please, not the “sex causes heart attack” story again

Having sex (or performing any kind of physical activity) triples the risk of having a heart attack, according to a new study. But there’s more to the story. The odds of having a heart attack during sex are about 1 in one million; tripling the risk boosts it to 3 in one million. In other words, sex can cause a heart attack, but usually doesn’t. And the more a person exercises, or has sex, the lower the chances of having a heart attack during the activity.

Kay Cahill Allison

When it comes to fiber, cereal fiber may be your best choice

Cereal fiber–from whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley and other whole grains–seems to offer more protection against heart disease and other chronic conditions than fiber from fruits and vegetables. The benefit isn’t necessarily from the fiber alone, but the natural package of nutrients that comes with the fiber. Processed foods, which are often stripped of their fiber and nutrients and then “fortified” in the manufacturing process, don’t measure up.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Heart disease forecast: Gloomy, with boom time ahead

The American Heart Association is predicting a big increase in cardiovascular disease over the next 20 years, fueled largely by the aging of baby boomers. Greater attention to heart-healthy living among boomers, their children, and grandchildren, could prove the AHA wrong.

Patrick J. Skerrett

New dietary guidelines offer little new guidance

The latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans focuses on weight and lowers the recommended salt intake for African Americans, people with diabetes, and others. Beyond that, the guidelines don’t offer much that is new. And what’s in there is often spoiled by vague language.

Anthony Komaroff, M.D.

Why we do what we do: good health information can save lives

My colleagues at Harvard Health Publications and I have a mission: to provide accurate, reliable information that will help readers live healthier lives. We work hard to fulfill that mission, and the feedback we get from folks who read our newsletters, Special Health Reports, books, and online health information indicates we are on the right […]

Peter Wehrwein

Vitamin D recommendations

Vitamin D has been talked about as the vitamin — the one that might help fend off everything from cancer to heart disease to autoimmune disorders, if only we were to get enough of it. “Whoa!” is the message from a committee of experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to update recommendations for vitamin D (and for calcium). […]

Patrick J. Skerrett