Prevention

Coming clean: Your anesthesiologist needs to know about marijuana use before surgery

Regular marijuana users who need surgery should disclose their use ahead of the procedure, because of its effects on the body and on the anesthesia medications required for sedation.

Why medical research keeps changing its mind

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When a medical study announces findings that seem to say the opposite of what’s been understood and accepted about a particular condition or treatment, it can make you question all medical news. A study aimed to determine just how frequently this happens, and with which conditions.

Bad flu season predicted — did you get your shot?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

This year’s flu season may be severe. Almost everyone should get vaccinated, but which vaccine might be best for you? And how else can you avoid the flu?

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

Because measles is so highly contagious, and because there is a significant delay before symptoms manifest, a person can carry the virus and infect others without knowing it, and many adults may not have received an effective dose of the vaccine. Many outbreaks of measles could probably be prevented if more travelers received MMR vaccine prior to foreign travel.

Colorectal cancer screening before age 50?

While the incidence of colorectal cancer has declined among older adults, it has increased in people younger than 50. The American Cancer Society now recommends that adults be screened for this condition starting at age 45.

Intensive treatment of blood pressure helps prevent memory decline in older adults

Gad Marshall, MD

Contributor

The results of a study on cardiovascular health and memory found that people who received intensive treatment to lower their blood pressure were significantly less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

Activity: It all counts

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

When it comes to physical activity and fitness, most of us could do more than we are doing, but the good news is that as long as you’re doing something, any amount of activity is beneficial, and more exercise is definitely associated with a lower risk of death.

How to prevent poisonings in children — and what to do if they happen

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Safety precautions can prevent a child from accidentally ingesting or being exposed to poisonous or harmful items in your home, but knowing what to do if something happens can save a life.

Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, part 2

The results of another clinical trial add to the evidence that healthy people without a history of cardiovascular disease should not take a daily aspirin for the prevention of a heart attack or stroke.

Can vaping help you quit smoking?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

While the long-term health consequences of using e-cigarettes are still unknown, a study comparing vaping with nicotine replacement therapy found that it may be useful as a tool to help some smokers quit.