Articles Posted in Stroke

yoga2-300x200For seniors who may be rushing to squeeze in a few more pretzel-twisting sessions to ease their stress from a hectic holiday season, this is a gentle reminder: Take it easy with the yoga. It can be good for you, but don’t overdo it or you may hurt yourself.

The Washington Post reported that the number of yoga devotees has climbed to an estimated 36.7 million Americans, many of whom find that stretching and posing in various styles makes them breathe and feel better, as well being more limber, focused, and relaxed. Yoga also has special appeal to older practitioners, 17 percent of them in their 50s and 21 percent 60 and older, according to a study conducted by a yoga publication.

But public health researchers from the University of Alabama Birmingham, after examining electronic data on almost 30,000 yoga-related injuries that led patients to emergency room treatment between 2001 and 2014, reported that:

bp-300x169Did you feel yourself just get less well? U.S. heart experts have just issued new guidelines on what Americans’ optimal blood pressure should be—effectively and suddenly shifting just under half of the adults in the nation younger than 45 into an unhealthful status as hypertensive.

Doctors say there’s no doubting data that shows that blood pressure readings exceeding 130 over 80 can be detrimental to patients’ health. That’s down from the previous warning level of 140 over 90.

But what exactly has the medical establishment wrought with this sweeping metric? Have they deemed so many of us unwell in this way that we’re about to see public doubt and confusion—even profiteering—as has surrounded the description of tens of millions of Americans as “prediabetic?”

Yes, the ancient adage caveat emptor still rules in the high-tech age. It may have sounded so simple, nice, and sweet to plunk grandma and grandpa in front of a computer screen to let them run a program to play games touted to help them prevent the cognitive ravages of age. It may seem wonderful, easy, and convenient to give little boys and girls talking toys in hopes of boosting their smarts, especially with enhanced language skills.

If only.

Just a short word to the wise: A major online “brain games” maker has agreed to pay $2 million to settle with the Federal Trade Commission. The agency had asserted that Lumosity made unfounded claims to deceive consumers that playing the company’s 40-some, 10- to 15-minute-long games would help them “perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions.”

ecig infographic-a_920pxHere’s a disturbing trend: Teenagers are getting inundated with advertisements touting electronic or so-called e-cigarettes.  Health authorities at the same time note that “vaping” is a growing way for millions to take in harmful nicotine and other substances.

Almost 7 in 10 10 youths were exposed to manufacturers’ tidal wave of e-cigarette ads, which are broadcast, carried online, and printed in publications and made visible in retail store displays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The CDC added that it had found that 2.6 million teens were e-cigarette users (vapers) in the last month, and those consumption numbers were likely to grow due to the extensive advertisements.

After years of battling regular cigarette use, officials expressed dismay about vaping and its saturation promotion to habituate young people so early and often. The CDC’s chief said this: “It’s the Wild West out there when it comes to e-cigarette advertising. It’s no coincidence that as the advertising has skyrocketed, the use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.”

In the last couple of years, the class of medications known as statins has gotten a lot of attention, most recently this month when NPR reported concern over the popularity of prescribing statins for the elderly.

Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs with “statin” somewhere in the generic name; brand names include Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor. People with elevated blood cholesterol levels are at greater risk for heart disease  and stroke.

The NPR story said that a lot of doctors prescribe them almost as a default treatment, a better-safe-than-sorry way to prevent heart trouble in their very elderly patients. That’s problematic, because there’s a lack of science to show the wisdom of such a broad-brush approach for this age group.

The words “legendary,” “miraculous” and “unique” are so overused in common conversation they’ve almost lost their meaning. Describing a health study as “landmark” falls into the same category.

Except for last week, when the initial results of a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) proved so impressive about the benefits of managing blood pressure intensively that the study was stopped early.

As reported by NPR, the findings resulted from the largest study ever conducted to examine whether reducing systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) below the level currently recommended would be beneficial.

Although some people in cardiac distress need invasive procedures to survive, some heart treatments are overused, and the cost continues to mount.

As explained by patient safety advocate John James in his August newsletter, performing angiography on and inserting stents in patients with stable heart disease not only wastes money, but can be unsafe.

An angiogram is an X-ray of blood vessels made visible after the patient is injected with radioactive dye. It’s often prescribed to detect damaged blood vessels and problems affecting blood flow. After an angiogram locates an occluded coronary artery, a stent, or tiny, self-inflating tube can be inserted to open it, and keep it open.

Coumadin is a commonly prescribed drug for treating blood clots and reducing the risk of developing them. It helps reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and embolisms (clots) forming in the legs or lungs. Using it requires exact dosing and regular testing of its effects – too little won’t protect you against life-threatening clots, and too much can cause uncontrollable bleeding.

A recent investigation by ProPublica and theWashington Post found that nursing homes often fail to maintain the delicate balance, putting patients in danger. Its analysis of government inspection reports found that from 2011 to 2014, at least 165 nursing home residents were hospitalized or died after errors involving Coumadin or its generic version, warfarin. And possibly thousands more suffer injuries every year that are never investigated.

One of these patients was Loren Peters, 85, who arrived at the emergency room in 2013 with bruises all over his frail body and blood oozing from his gums. He had been prescribed Coumadin for his abnormal heart rhythm. Even though doctors administered vitamin K, which is the antidote for too much Coumadin, Peters died a few days after he was brought to the hospital.

A couple of years ago, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology revised the guidelines for prescribing statins, drugs that compromise the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, to recommend that many more people take statins to prevent heart disease.

It was a controversial decision, as we described in our blog. Last week, the controversy was renewed when a couple of studies bolstered those guidelines.

When the guidelines for statin use were issued in 2013, one analysis estimated the market for the drugs would grow by 12.8 million more than under the previous guidelines, to about 56 million people, or nearly half of all people in the U.S. between the ages of 40 to 75.

According to JAMA Internal Medicine, half of the 346,000 people 35 and older who died from cancer in 2011 had a history of smoking cigarettes. But what’s truly remarkable about the new research is that this is the first study to identify deaths from 11 kinds of cancer besides lung cancer that were associated with cigarette use.

As described by, the researchers referred to the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report as fundamental to their study, which estimated the annual number of smoking-related deaths from cancer generally and from lung cancer specifically between 2005 and 2009.

The study traced how smoking behavior and its association with cancer have changed over time. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of people who smoked decreased from 23 in 100 to 18 in 100, and the number of deaths for most types of cancer tied to smoking also declined.

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