Archive for January, 2021

How does sleep affect your heart rate?

During waking hours you may feel your heart rate fluctuating, and activity or intense emotions can cause it to spike. But what happens to your heart rate when you sleep? It varies then too, depending on the phase of sleep you are in.

Are early detection and treatment always best?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The culture of American medicine has long believed and supported the idea that more early detection and treatment is best. But some testing is costly, invasive and carries needless risks, and some conditions go away on their own. Early detection and treatment can be lifesaving — just not for every health issue.

Shingles of the eye can cause lasting vision impairment

There are about one million cases of shingles in the US each year, and up to 20% of those involve nerves in the head, where the infection can affect various parts of the eye. If a case of shingles involves the upper face, forehead, or scalp, it is important to see an ophthalmologist promptly, because complications can lead to eye damage and possible vision impairment.

New dietary guidelines: Any changes for infants, children, and teens?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The US Department of Agriculture has published its periodically updated dietary guidelines, and for the first time advice for babies and toddlers is included. It’s never too early to start instilling good eating habits in kids, and awareness of what children should and shouldn’t eat is one way parents can get their kids on the right track.

3 simple strategies for stress relief

As we wade through our daily lives, stress is almost impossible to avoid –– particularly these days. Instead of enduring stress and letting it engulf you, try one or more of these three easy strategies to relieve it.

Need surgery? Should you avoid your surgeon’s birthday?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Researchers have examined many factors that can influence the outcome of surgery — both obvious and not-so-obvious ones. A recent study asked whether having surgery on the surgeon’s birthday had any effect on how patients fared.

How not to lose money because of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers found that people who go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder are more likely to miss paying a bill prior to being diagnosed, but such people face more significant related issues: poor financial decision-making and falling victim to financial scams.

Do hair dyes increase cancer risk?

Shinjita Das, MD

Contributor

Many studies have explored the relationship between hair dye use and risk of cancer or cancer-related death, with conflicting findings. In a recent study, researchers analyzed survey data from over 117,000 women collected over several decades regarding hair dye use and overall cancer risk.

More intensive treatment of DCIS reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer

With increased rates of diagnosis of very early breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ, there has been controversy about treatment. A recent study found that having DCIS increased the risk of invasive breast cancer later, and also that women who chose more intensive treatment early were less likely to have invasive breast cancer.

Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

During adolescence, the brain grows and changes in crucial ways and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When teens and young adults drink alcohol, it can interfere with brain development processes and cause long-lasting effects.