Harvard Health Blog

Read posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Vaccines against the flu and COVID-19: What you need to know

Autumn is when infectious respiratory diseases start to spread more readily. That's why October is the ideal time to boost your immunity against the viruses that cause flu and COVID-19.

Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis may lower dementia risk

Inflammation is the hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis, and is also thought to play a role in the development of dementia. Could the inflammation-suppressing medicines for RA lower risk of dementia? Some research points in that direction, but more is needed.

Can self-employment promote better cardiovascular health for women?

Being self-employed can offer advantages like flexibility and autonomy in a person's work life. Now, data from a long-term health study suggests that self-employment may provide another benefit for some women: improved health outcomes.

Why is it so challenging to find a primary care physician?

An adequate supply of primary care physicians is essential for our health care system to function properly, but it's becoming more and more difficult to find one. Rates of burnout are high among PCPs, and many are considering cutting back their work hours or leaving altogether.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new injection treatment for eczema

Existing treatments for a type of eczema called atopic dermatitis include creams and ointments, some containing steroids. An ad for a new injected medication pitches its skin-clearing capability, but that isn't the whole story.

3 simple swaps for better heart health

A busy schedule can make it challenging to adhere to heart-healthy habits, but there are steps you can take that don't require much time and can fit easily into almost anyone's life.

Asking about guns in houses where your child plays

Between 2015 and 2020, there were more than 2,000 unintentional shootings in the US by children under 18. Parents can help reduce the chance of an accidental shooting by asking about gun security at homes where their children play.

Behavioral weight loss interventions: Do they work in primary care?

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is a major health issue. An analysis of data from multiple studies found that when weight management interventions were delivered in primary care settings, participants lost more weight and kept it off longer.

Who needs treatment for ocular hypertension?

High pressure in the eyes puts a person at greater risk of developing glaucoma, but does everyone with higher than normal eye pressure need to be treated? A major long-term study provides some clues.

The popularity of microdosing of psychedelics: What does the science say?

Renewed research into the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs has led to interest in microdosing — taking a fraction of a regular dose. Many people believe that microdosing can help them, but the evidence from some recent studies is mixed.

When can women with early-stage breast cancer skip radiation after lumpectomy?

Current guidelines for women under 65 with early-stage breast cancer recommend following lumpectomy with radiation therapy, but emerging research could expand the option of skipping radiation to some women as young as 55.

Palliative care frightens some people: Here's how it helps

Palliative care is a medical specialty meant to help people during many different stages of health. Many people who might benefit from palliative care do not receive it; if more people understand it, more people can take advantage of it.

The case of the bad placebo

A trial from 2019 showed a medication dramatically reduced triglyceride levels in participants, but subsequent analysis found that the placebo used in the trial may have negatively affected those assigned to take it.

Taking up adaptive sports

Our abilities may change during the course of a lifetime. Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational activities that are modified to support people living with disabilities or limitations.

Prostate cancer: Radiation therapy elevates risk for future cancers

A standard treatment for localized prostate cancer is radiation, but there is a risk that it can lead to secondary cancers forming in the body later. Now, a large study of men treated with current radiation delivery methods clarifies that the amount of risk is low, but real.

Monkeypox: What parents need to know

Few cases of monkeypox have occurred in children during this outbreak, and while the illness is usually mild, it's important for parents to know how to recognize and prevent this virus.

Have a gas stove? How to reduce pollution that may harm health

Cooking with gas stoves releases nitrogen dioxide and gas appliances introduce other toxic chemicals into homes, but people can take steps to protect their household and help improve outdoor air quality, too.

Proton-pump inhibitors: Should I still be taking this medication?

Proton-pump inhibitors are a commonly prescribed anti-acid medication, but new guidelines from the American Gastroenterological Association recommend that they should be taken at the lowest dose and shortest duration for the condition being treated.

How good is your cardiometabolic health — and what is that, anyway?

An analysis shows less than 7% of adults in the US meet the criteria for optimal cardiometabolic health. Taking small steps to help control and improve key risk factors can reduce the odds of a heart attack or stroke.

Poison ivy: Scratchin' like a hound?

Misconceptions about poison ivy are common — from when you can get it to how you might get it, and the best ways to treat it. Knowing the facts can help you avoid it, or treat it properly if you are exposed to it.

Apps to accelerometers: Can technology improve mental health in older adults?

The adoption of technology has grown rapidly among older adults, and with it have come potential benefits to mental health, daily functioning, and quality of life. Those who want to help an older person in their life might suggest one of the many options available.

Opioid addiction and overdoses are increasingly harming Black communities

The ongoing opioid epidemic in the US has been perceived as an issue that mostly affects white people in rural areas, but a recently published report from the CDC shows that the epidemic is now disproportionately affecting Black people.

Hand pain from arthritis? This may help

The joint connecting the thumb and wrist is crucial in everyday activities like opening jars or grasping objects, but if osteoarthritis develops, treatment options are limited and don't always work well. A new study has demonstrated the effectiveness of occupational therapy for arthritis in this joint of the hand.

Polio: What parents need to know now

Recent news reports about cases of polio have some parents concerned about the illness. The vaccine is safe and remarkably effective, and widespread vaccination builds herd immunity.

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