Better sleep means better health …

Prescription drugs may interfere with sleep. Some prescription sleep aids, when taken for long periods of time, become less effective. They are intended only for a short period of time. A number of other prescription medications for chronic medical conditions may also interfere with sleep because they contain stimulants. In many cases, the fix is a matter of adjusting the type of medicine and the dosage. If prescription sleep medicines are no longer effective, alternative treatments, such as behavior therapies, can help. More »

Missing out on aspirin therapy?

Fewer than half of the people with cardiovascular disease in the United States are prescribed aspirin therapy, even though it’s cheap and available over the counter. Many people prescribed aspirin start to feel well once they have recovered after a heart attack, and therefore mistakenly conclude they don’t need to take their aspirin. Though the use of aspirin for heart attack prevention is a generally well-established approach, some questions remain about the proper dose. For chronic cardiovascular protection, it appears that 81 mg daily is sufficient.   (Locked) More »

High blood sugar linked to brain shrinkage

Blood sugar on the high end of the normal range may be linked to brain shrinkage in areas associated with memory and thinking. It’s not clear if blood sugar causes the problem, but having a high normal glucose level at age 60 or older can potentially serve as a useful marker of impending neurodegeneration. A fasting blood level of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates “prediabetes” and increased risk for developing diabetes. A fasting level of 126 mg/dL or higher signifies diabetes.   (Locked) More »

Making peace with holiday buffets

It’s easy to eat too much and gain weight during the holidays, but planning ahead makes a difference. Partygoers can be sure of a healthy dish if they bring their own food to a party. Other strategies include using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate, eating slowly, sipping water between bites, and drinking a limited amount of alcohol only during meals.   (Locked) More »

In search of vitamin D

The exact dosage of vitamin D required for bone health is controversial. Supplements of 400 international units (IU), along with 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium, won’t do much. Harvard experts recommend 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day (up to 2,000 IU in patients at risk for vitamin D deficiency), along with 1,000 to 1,200 mg of daily calcium in divided doses, ideally from both food sources and supplements. However, the right dosage for each person depends on his or her age, bone density, and vitamin D levels.   (Locked) More »

Do-it-yourself skin cancer checks

Skin cancer checks need to be a year-round maintenance effort. About 50% of melanomas are identified by patients, and even more are discovered if the skin is examined with the help of a partner. Using a computer-based tutorial to learn how to check for skin cancers can help you catch the problems early. Pay particular attention to spots that have grown or display a variety of hues, such as tan, black, brown, pearly, or translucent; moles or pigmented spots that have changed in color, mass, or contour; or sores that continually crust, bleed, itch, hurt, or don’t heal.   (Locked) More »

Losing your sense of smell?

Some loss of smell is just part of aging. But if loss of smell lasts longer than a few weeks, it may indicate an underlying problem, and sometimes a serious neurological condition. Treatment for loss of smell caused by inflammation or blockage might involve topical steroids, antibiotics, or surgery. When the doctor suspects neurodegenerative causes, some brain imaging may be required.   (Locked) More »

Pelvic organ prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse affects about 50% of mostly older women, when the connecting tissues and muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place weaken and stretch over time, causing the organs to descend into the vagina. Sometimes one of those organs falls so much it will be visible at the vaginal opening. The key to ensuring a successful surgery is finding a urogynecologic surgeon or a gynecologist who specializes in vaginal surgery.   (Locked) More »

What you should know about: Aspirin during a heart attack

Taking aspirin during a heart attack can help save your life. Aspirin inhibits the formation of a clot and helps restore blood flow. Chewing one regular-strength adult 325-milligram (mg) aspirin, and swallowing it, should be sufficient. Avoid coated aspirins, as they are absorbed slowly. Chewing an uncoated aspirin and swallowing it quickly will speed the medicine through the bloodstream.   (Locked) More »

The secrets of longevity

Staying active and connected can extend optimal physical and mental health in the 90s. Pursuing leisure activities and not smoking are also key. (Locked) More »