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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women.
Close to 43 million women in the United States have some form of
cardiovascular disease — a term that includes both heart disease
and stroke — and every year nearly 422,000 die of it.
Several behaviors and conditions — smoking, poor diet, physical
inactivity, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, and
diabetes — increase the risk of developing cardiovascular
Evidence has mounted that depression should be added to the list
of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Research suggests
that depression increases the likelihood of developing heart
disease and stroke, even after taking into account factors such
The issue is important to consider for women in particular,
because they are twice as likely as men to develop depression.
While hypnosis is endorsed by the American Psychiatric
Association as a therapy for certain disorders, the precise
manner in which it works is still not understood.
The most influential theories of hypnosis emphasize dissociation,
which may explain the amnesia of hypnotic subjects and the fact
that they often say their actions are not willed but happening
A different understanding is reflected in the social-cognitive
theory of hypnosis, which emphasizes suggestibility rather than
dissociation. This theory holds that the hypnotic trance is not
an altered state of consciousness but instead a striking effect
of the human susceptibility to social influence.
Dr. Adam Wolfberg, a physician at Tufts Medical Center,
specializing in high-risk pregnancies explores the brain's
ability to compensate for injury by recounting his daughter's
premature birth and early years.
In 2002, when his wife Kelly was about six-and-a-half months
pregnant, she went into early labor. Soon afterward she gave
birth to their daughter Larissa, who was born weighing a little
under 2 pounds — at the very cusp of survival.
Because Larissa Wolfberg was born at 26 weeks of gestation, her
doctors could not predict what her future would hold.
In his book, Fragile Beginnings:
Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU, Dr. Wolfberg
not only provides a look at the tremendous strengths and
limitations of newborn intensive care medicine today, but also
details how physical and occupational therapists worked with
Larissa as she grew older to help her overcome some of the
physical challenges she faced. In the process, he offers a
fascinating look at the human side of neuroplasticity, the
brain's ability to adapt and learn.
There is much truth behind the phrase "stress eating." Stress, the
hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary "comfort
foods" push people toward overeating. Researchers have linked
weight gain to stress, and according to an American Psychological
Association survey, about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress
level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.
In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. A structure in
the brain called the hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing
hormone, which suppresses appetite. The brain also sends messages
to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone
epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger
the body's fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological
state that temporarily puts eating on hold.
But if stress persists, it's a different story. The adrenal glands
release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases
appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the
motivation to eat.
Research into painkiller addiction suggests that successful
treatment may require ongoing use of a drug that dulls the
craving for the painkiller.
People with heart disease are at higher risk of cognitive
decline, but increased physical activity may equate with the
cognitive function of someone several years younger.
If your child is being treated for attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may have one less thing to
worry about. A study involving 1.2 million children and young
adults provided reassuring evidence that the drugs used to treat
ADHD do not increase the risk of death from heart disease.
Researchers, who published their results in October 2011 in The
New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed medical records from a
nationwide private insurance plan along with health plans based
in Tennessee, California, and Washington State. They compared
children taking stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin)
and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) that are commonly used to treat
ADHD with children not taking these drugs.
Among all of the children, heart attack, stroke, or sudden death
were rare, affecting a little more than three in every 100,000
children per year. Cardiac problems were no more common among
children using a stimulant as among those not taking one.