Taking charge of your health

People can take charge of their health by being more proactive. Suggestions include keeping track of health information, such as current lists of prescriptions and family medical history; being a better patient and never missing health screenings; speaking up about health concerns and asking questions about treatment options and risks; exercising for the physiological benefits; and improving diet by eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out saturated fats, high-sodium foods, and prepackaged foods. More »

How to cope with drug-resistant hypertension

When three or more medications are unable to keep blood pressure under control, the condition is known as resistant hypertension. It’s usually caused by nonadherence to medication regimens, too much salt in the diet, and side effects from other conditions, such as a lack of sleep or kidney problems. Treatment focuses on discovering and addressing the causes. Recent research suggests that renal denervation is both safe and effective at helping to manage resistant hypertension. It’s a catheter procedure that uses radiofrequency to destroy overactive nerves in the renal (kidney) arteries. Exercise and improved diet can also help lower hypertension. (Locked) More »

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps depression

Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective at treating depression. It’s based on the idea that our thoughts make us suffer as much as external things do. Changing unhealthy thinking can bring relief in a way that medication can’t, because there may still be behavioral patterns that undermine a sense of well-being. A CBT therapist helps a person identify automatic negative thoughts and understand why the thoughts aren’t rational, then help come up with ways to rebut the destructive thoughts and develop techniques to reinforce positive ones. CBT is also helpful for treatment-resistant depression. (Locked) More »

Avoiding knee or hip surgery

Losing weight and strengthening muscles may help stave off joint replacement. Stronger muscles are better able to absorb pressure that is placed on the joints they support. The key muscles to strengthen for knee health are the quadriceps and hamstrings. The key muscles to strengthen for hip health are the gluteus muscles and the flexors. Weight loss reduces pressure on the joints as well. A weight-loss program should include enough calories, carbohydrates, and protein to provide energy for the body and build muscle. More »

Silent urinary infections, serious consequences

Older women and men are susceptible to urinary tract infections. These often occur when bacteria from the rectum cling to the urethra (the tube leading to the bladder) and then ascend to the bladder. Symptoms include burning with urination, frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate, and pain in the area of the bladder. But symptoms don’t always occur in older adults, which may result in a UTI going untreated and then spreading to the kidneys, where the bacteria can get into the bloodstream easily and cause sepsis. The key to prevention is increased fluid intake. (Locked) More »

Specks in your vision can signal serious eye conditions

The tiny specks or “floaters” that drift across one’s field of vision are usually harmless and often disappear or become less noticeable on their own. They are pieces of debris from the vitreous that block the light shining onto the retina. If the vitreous detaches, it may cause a retinal tear or detachment, which can lead to vision loss. Symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment include a sudden shower of floaters and also the sense of flashing lights. It requires immediate attention. The fix is usually laser surgery. (Locked) More »

What to look for in sunscreen:

Changes to sunscreen labels include new terminology. No more calling a product “sunblock.” It’s just sunscreen. And no more claims that sunscreen is “sweat proof” or “waterproof.” A sunscreen can only be called “water resistant” for either 40 or 80 minutes, and only if it passes a government test. For a label to claim the sunscreen can prevent sunburn, the product must pass the sun protection factor (SPF) test. For a product to claim it can prevent skin cancer, it must pass the broad-spectrum test. Dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of at least 30. (Locked) More »

What you need to know about: Calcium supplements

Doctors recommend that adults try to get 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day from foods. Most people get about 700 mg of calcium in the diet. A low-dose calcium supplement pill can make up the difference—often only 500 mg per day in supplements will be needed. There is strong evidence that the combination of calcium (from diet alone or from a combination of diet and supplements) plus vitamin D helps protect against bone fractures. There is little evidence that calcium supplements taken alone achieve such bone benefits. (Locked) More »

Best way to prevent advanced colon cancer

A colonoscopy can help prevent the diagnosis of late-stage colon cancer. Research suggests that the test can reduce the likelihood of advanced colorectal cancer diagnosis by 70% in adults with average risk. (Locked) More »