Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Cardiovascular Training and the Holiday Season

Excerpts from the 7 December 2011 post at A Doctor and A Nurse

The holiday season is accelerating down the fast lane toward your doorstep.  Holiday crunch time has arrived and you’re livin’ in the fast lane.  Your cardiovascular training routine is not only limited by the cold weather , it is now limited by time.  Don’t off ramp your cardio routine  just yet. Livin’ life in the cardio fast lane is easier than you think. Here are some key facts to consider before putting cardio on the back burner. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends the following cardio parameters for frequency, duration, and intensity in order to make cardiovascular system and cardio respiratory gains from exercise:

  • Frequency must be at least 3 days per week if vigorous, 5 days if moderate intensity.
  • Duration needs to last 20-30 minutes minimum in your target zone, up to 60 minutes if fat burn is the goal.
  • Intensity should range between 50-85% of your predicted target heart rate.
  • Warm up and cool down at least 5 minutes before and after the workout at 50% intensity.
  • Interval training  with an interval training plan will make things more interesting with more training possible with less time commitment.
  • If training stops, fitness gains are lost by approximately 50% in as little as 4 weeks.

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Is napping good for you? – Ask Doctor K, Harvard Medical School

Is napping good for you? – Ask Doctor K, Harvard Medical School.

Excerpts from the article

 

POSTED NOVEMBER 24, 2011, 5:00 AM
napping-112411

DEAR DOCTOR K:

As I’ve gotten older I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I’m retired, so I have the time to take an afternoon nap. But I’m worried that if I sleep during the day, I’ll have even more trouble sleeping at night. What do you think?

DEAR READER:

I’m not surprised that you don’t sleep as well as you used to. Our sleep changes as we get older.

After about age 60, we have less deep sleep. We awaken more often and sleep an average of two hours less at night than we did as young adults.

It was once thought that older people didn’t need as much sleep as younger ones. But that’s not the case; we need it just as much. We just have a harder time getting it.

Regardless of age, we typically need seven and a half to eight hours of sleep to function at our best. So if you’re not getting enough sleep at night, what about daytime naps? Or, as you asked, does napping disrupt the sleep cycle? Will napping ultimately lead to less sleep and more daytime drowsiness?

Everybody’s different, and napping is both good and bad, depending on who you are. If you have trouble sleeping nearly every night, and as a result feel tired during the day, napping in the evening is a bad idea. Evening naps make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. Long naps at any time of day often make you sleep less soundly that night.

On the other hand, suppose you have an occasional bad night’s sleep….

 

 

Read the entire article

 

 

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Census Bureau Releases New Set of 5-Year American Community Survey Estimates

Logo of the American Community Survey, a proje...

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Estimates Provide Detailed Look at Every Community Nationwide

From the US Census press release

The U.S. Census Bureau today released findings from the American Community Survey — the most relied-on source for detailed, up-to-date socio-economic statistics covering every community in the nation every year — for the combined years from 2006 to 2010.

Consisting of about 11 billion individual estimates and covering more than 670,000 distinct geographies, the five-year estimates give even the smallest communities timely information on more than 40 topics, such as educational attainment, income, occupation, commuting to work, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs.

Visitors to the Census Bureau website can find their community’s estimates in the <American FactFinder> database.

“These estimates are ideal for public officials to use to make key decisions,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “School boards will find them helpful in forecasting demand for classroom space, teachers and workforce training programs, and they will be a tremendous asset to planners in identifying traffic concerns and building roads and transit systems to ease commutes. Local governments will also find them useful in forecasting needs for services such as police and fire protection.”

Today’s release is based on completed interviews with almost 2 million housing units each year from 2006 through 2010. By pooling several years of survey responses, the American Community Survey can generate detailed statistical portraits of smaller geographies. The Census Bureau issues new sets of these five-year estimates every year, permitting users to track trends in even the smallest of areas over time.

Two Briefs Using the Five-Year Estimates

In addition to the estimates released in the 940 detailed tables through American FactFinder, the Census Bureau is also releasing today two five-year ACS briefs, which are short, topic-based reports that analyze statistics for a wide range of topics. These new five-year briefs join the series previously only using one-year data and estimates. The five-year briefs take advantage of the very small geography and groups that can only be estimated with five years of data. A complete list of all released Briefs is accessible here: <http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2010_acs_briefs/>.

Native North American Language Speakers Concentrated in a Handful of Counties

Sixty-five percent of Native North American language speakers lived in just three states, Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico. Nine counties within these states contained half the nation’s Native American language speakers. Apache County in Arizona had 37,000 speakers of a Native American language, making it the highest in the nation. McKinley County, N.M., had the second most speakers at 33,000. Together, about 20 percent of all Native American language speakers in the nation lived in these two counties.

The most commonly spoken Native North American language was Navajo, with more than 169,000 people speaking this language nationally. The number of Navajo speakers was nearly nine times larger than the second and third most commonly spoken languages of Yupik and Dakota, with each having about 19,000 speakers. Although the majority of Native North American language speakers resided in an American Indian and Alaska Native area, only 5 percent of people living in an American Indian and Alaska Native area spoke a Native North American language.

More than One-in-Five Live in “Poverty Areas”

People living in poverty tend to be clustered in certain neighborhoods rather than being evenly distributed across geographic areas. About 67 million people across the nation, or 23 percent of the population, lived in “poverty areas” — that is, census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or more. Among states, the percentage ranged from 46 percent in Mississippi to 5 percent in New Hampshire. In 15 states and the District of Columbia, more than one-quarter of the population resided in poverty areas.

Of the 10 million people residing in tracts where poverty was especially prevalent (poverty rates of 40 percent or more), 43 percent were white, 38 percent were black, 3 percent were Asian, 11 percent were some other race, and 2 percent reported two or more races.

Individuals residing in tracts with poverty rates of 40 percent or more were less likely to have completed high school, to work year-round, full time and to own a home, and were more likely to be living in a female-householder family and to be receiving food stamps than individuals living in tracts with low poverty rates (poverty rates of less than 13.8 percent).

 

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Breakthrough in Regulating Fat Metabolism

From the 9 December 2011 Science Daily article

Scientists at Warwick Medical School have made an important discovery about the mechanism controlling the body’s ‘fat switch’, shedding new light on our understanding of how proteins regulate appetite control and insulin secretion.

This research, led by Professor Victor Zammit, Head of Metabolic and Vascular Health at Warwick Medical School, found that the enzyme known as ‘Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A’ (CPT1) has a switch which is thrown depending on the composition and curvature of its cellular membrane. This is the first time such a mechanism has been described and may possibly be unique, reflecting the importance of this protein to cellular function.

CPT1 is the key protein that regulates fatty acid oxidation in the liver and is critical for metabolism. Its activity determines whether individuals suffer from fatty liver in one extreme or ketosis in the other. Professor Zammit explained: “Knowing that the CPT1 enzyme can switch and what controls it will ultimately lead to a better understanding of why some people appear to have a speedy metabolism and others struggle to curb their appetite….

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Human Brains Unlikely To Evolve Into A “supermind” As Price To Pay Would Be Too High

From the 8 December 2011 Medical News Today article

Human minds have hit an evolutionary “sweet spot” and – unlike computers cannot continually get smarter without trade-offs elsewhere, according to research by the University of Warwick.

Researchers asked the question why we are not more intelligent than we are given the adaptive evolutionary process.

Their conclusions show that you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to mental performance.

The evidence suggests that for every gain in cognitive functions, for example better memory, increased attention or improved intelligence, there is a price to pay elsewhere – meaning a highly-evolved “supermind” is the stuff of science fiction….

For instance, among individuals with enhanced cognitive abilities such as savants, people with photographic memories, and even genetically segregated populations of individuals with above average IQ, these individuals often suffer from related disorders, such as autism, debilitating synaesthesia and neural disorders linked with enhanced brain growth.

Similarly, drugs like Ritalan only help people with lower attention spans whereas people who don’t have trouble focusing can actually perform worse when they take attention-enhancing drugs.

Dr Hills said: “These kinds of studies suggest there is an upper limit to how much people can or should improve their mental functions like attention, memory or intelligence….

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

High Intestinal Microbial Diversity Safeguards Against Allergies

From the 9 December 2011 Medical News Today article

High diversity and a variety of bacteria in the gut protect children against allergies as opposed to some individual bacterial genera. These are the findings of a comprehensive study of intestinal microflora (gut flora) in allergic and healthy children, which was conducted at Linköping University in Sweden.

One hypothesis is that our immune system encounters too few bacteria during childhood, which explains the increasing proportion of allergic children. However it has been difficult to substantiate the hypothesis scientifically.

“We conducted the study in collaboration with Karolinska Institute and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology which substantiates the so-called hygiene hypothesis. Children acquire intestinal microflora from their environment, and in our society they are probably exposed to insufficient bacteria that are necessary for the immune system to mature”, says Thomas Abrahamsson, paediatric physician and a researcher at Linköping University….

It is the composition of intestinal microflora during the first weeks of life that show signs of being critical to the immune system’s development. In the absence of sufficient stimuli from many different bacteria, the system may overreact against harmless antigens in the environment, such as foods. The risk of developing asthma at school age for children afflicted by these allergies is five to six times higher. 

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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