Harvard Heart Letter

In Brief

In Brief

  • Exercising improper restraint. Women over age 75 are less likely to get advice about exercise from their doctors than younger women, even though late-life exercise has numerous benefits and women in this age group are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, the least likely to be physically active, and the most likely to follow a doctor's recommendations. When it comes to exercise, it's never too late to start. That goes for men as well. (Journal of the American Geriatric Society)

  • Bitter ain't better. When the FDA banned the stimulant ephedra from weight-loss supplements, largely because of negative effects on the heart, supplement makers went looking for alternatives. One stimulant popping up in these products is bitter orange. Cardiologists at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston report a case of a 57-year-old man who developed spasmodic chest pain (variant angina) after taking CortiSlim, a weight-loss product containing bitter orange. It illustrates the continuing lesson that just because something is "natural," or ephedra-free, doesn't make it safe. (Mayo Clinic Proceedings)

  • Hearts and minds. After reviewing nearly 100 studies, a panel assembled by the National Institutes of Health's Cognitive and Emotional Health Project says that several factors recommended for maintaining a healthy heart — controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar; a healthful diet; and regular exercise — may protect memory and mental health, too. (Alzheimer's and Dementia)

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