New finding: Purrrvention

Cats owners are 40% less likely to die from a heart attack than people who don't own cats, according to news reports about research presented at an American Stroke Association meeting in New Orleans in February 2008. The kitty-kat protection extended to other cardiovascular woes as well, including stroke. But dogs and other kinds of pets were not associated with lower cardiovascular risk, according to the researchers at the Minneapolis Stroke Institute, whose findings were based on data culled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. More »

Other pet-related diseases

Brucellosis affects mainly farm animals but dogs may harbor the bacteria that cause the disease and spread it to other animals and people. Dog-to-human transmission is rare; the risk is higher for people who work around animals and pets — for veterinarians, for example — that it is for pet owners. Only a couple of hundred cases occur in the United States each year. The most common way of contracting the disease is eating or drinking contaminated milk products. Americans sometimes get brucellosis from eating unpasteurized milk or cheese while traveling in certain parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The disease is caused by bacteria in the genus Brucella. The species that infects dogs is called Brucella canis. The symptoms are similar to those produced by influenza: fever, headaches, back pain, and physical weakness. In severe cases, the infection gets into the central nervous system or lining of the heart. (Locked) More »

References for “Olfaction subtraction”

Bromley SM. "Smell and Taste Disorders," American Family Physician (Jan. 15, 2000), Vol. 61, No. 2. Nickell WT. "Basic Anatomy and Physiology of Olfaction," in Taste and Smell Disorders, edited by Seiden AM (Thieme 1997). Ofo E, et al. "Olfactory loss," BMJ (February 2007), Vol. 334, p. 423. (Locked) More »

References for “Our pet causes”

Allen K, et al. "Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: The truth about cats and dogs," Psychosomatic Medicine (2002), Vol. 64, pp. 727-739. Brown SG. "Relationships among dog ownership and leisure-time walking in Western Canadian adults," American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Februrary 2006), Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 131-136. McNicholas J, et al. "Pet ownership and human health: a brief review of evidence and issues," BMJ (2005), Vol. 331, pp. 1252-1254. (Locked) More »

References for “You don’t have to take a pill”

Messier SP, et al. "Exercise and dietary weight loss in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis: the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial," Arthritis and Rheumatism (May 2004), Vol. 50, No. 5, pp. 1501-10. Miller GD, et al. "Intensive weight loss program improves physical functions in older obese adults with knee osteoarthritis," Obesity (July 2006), Vol. 14, No. 7, pp. 1219-30. Gardner CD, et al. "The effect of plant-based diet on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic adults," Annals of Internal Medicine (May 3, 2005), Vol. 142, No. 9, pp. 725-733. (Locked) More »

You don't have to take a pill

It is often easier to treat a condition with medication rather than making lifestyle changes, and some people cannot or do not want to take drugs. But there are ways to manage certain conditions without drugs. More »

Olfaction subtraction

Temporary loss of smell, which affects the ability to taste, can be caused by a cold, allergies, head injury, or viral respiratory infection. A short course of an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid medication can sometimes resolve the problem. (Locked) More »

Our pet causes

Household pets can carry bacteria on their fur or in their waste that can transfer to humans, but the overall risk of infection is small, and can be further mitigated by getting in the habit of washing your hands after touching your pet or its waste. (Locked) More »

By the way, doctor: Is that too much vitamin D?

My doctor gave me a prescription for 50,000 units of vitamin D to be taken every two weeks. But I've read that the recommended dose is more like 1,000 IU a day, and that more than 2,000 IU a day is unsafe. I don't want to do more harm than good! (Locked) More »

By the way, doctor: Why is my mitral valve leaking?

I had cardiac bypass surgery three years ago. I didn't have a heart attack none of my heart muscle was killed. But two months ago, a stress test showed that the mitral valve in my heart is leaking. What could have caused it, and what can I do about it? (Locked) More »