Health & Wellness

Unable To Stick To Your Cardio Workout? Try Playing Music!

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It’s a common sighting in fitness gyms to see people running on the treadmill while listening to music through their earphones. A new study discovered that this music strategy may lead people to stick to their workout routines better.

A study by Dr. David Alter of the University Health Network’s Toronto Rehab shows that people who listen to “personalized music playlists” tend to adhere to their cardiac rehabilitation program by 70 percent more than those who don’t use music. “The music tempo-pace synchronization helps cue the person to take their next step or stride and helps regulate, maintain and reinforce their prescribed exercise pace,” said Alter in a news item.

The study investigated 34 cardiac rehab patients of Toronto Rehab who were monitored for their adherence to their prescribed exercise programs. Two thirds of the test group were provided audio devices equipped with personalized playlists, with half of them receiving rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) technology to enhance their synchronization to the tempo of the workout.

Results showed that those with RAS synchronization increased their hours of exercise by up to 70 percent in a week compared to patients who did not listen to music. Dr. Alter said that the rise in exercise hours could yield benefits to the patient’s health. “If this average increase of exercise was sustained for an average 65-year-old male patient, it would correlate with a projected life-expectancy increase of two and a half years,” Alter added.

Details of the study were published in the journal Sports Medicine-Open.


Health & Wellness

CDC Infographic Shows ‘Distinctive Causes of Death’ in Each U.S. State

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map of distinctive causes of death from CDC WONDER

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been running the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) website to provide public health data of citizens across all U.S. states. With the WONDER system as basis, the agency recently released an insightful infographic that depicts the distinctive causes of deaths in each state.

The infographic, which was released through the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, revealed identifiable causes of death that were significantly distinct in each state from 2001 to 2010. Michigan leads all states with the highest number of fatalities at 37,292 for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Other disease-related deaths significantly defined in other states include about 15,000 in Florida due to HIV, as well as 679 fatalities in Texas as a result of tuberculosis.

distinctive causes of death from CDC WONDER

The researchers, which include Francis Boscoe of the New York State Cancer Registry and Eva Pradhan of the New York State Department of Health, said that while the infographic sheds light on the health situation of various states, results of their findings do not necessarily represent the leading cause of death for each state. “These limitations are characteristic of maps generally and are why these maps are best regarded as snapshots and not comprehensive statistical summaries,” the research team said in a news item.

The health map has become a much-needed spark to focus on other underlying causes of fatalities in the U.S. “Although chronic disease prevention efforts should continue to emphasize the most common conditions, an outlier map such as this one should also be of interest to public health professionals, particularly insofar as it highlights nonstandard cause-of-death certification practices within and between states that can potentially be addressed through education and training,” the researchers added.

[ Image source: CDC ]

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Proof That E-Cigarettes Help People Quit Smoking Still Inconclusive, Study Says

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Electronic cigarette manufacturers claim that their products are effective alternatives to help smokers kick the habit, but a recent study reveals that there is little evidence to back that up.

Researchers from the University of Toronto led by Riyad al-Lehebi, MBBS released findings of their research during the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference, in relation to using e-cigarettes to promote smoking cessation. “While e-cigarettes have been shown to significantly improve abstinence at 1 month compared with placebo, no such evidence is available supporting their effectiveness for longer periods,” al-Lehebi said in a news release.

More than 2,000 patients were analyzed for their use of electronic cigarettes, changes in their smoking habits as a result of using e-cigarettes, and harmful effects on their health. Although smoking cessation was successful in the first month of using electronic variants, no significant change was observed in follow-ups after 3 and 6 months. “Although e-cigarettes are widely promoted and used as a smoking cessation tool, we found no data supporting their long-term efficacy and safety,” the study lead author explained.

In light of their findings on the lack of effectiveness of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, the research team recommends that smokers use other more effective means to help them get rid of the addictive behavior. “Until such data are available, there are a number of other smoking cessation aids available that have a more robust evidence base supporting their efficacy and safety… Individuals seeking help with smoking cessation should consider other more well-established options until more research is performed,” al-Lehebi added.


Health & Wellness

Obesity in Young Adults Linked To Higher Risk of Stroke, Study Says

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A recent study confirms what many people already know: obesity may lead to stroke.

This was revealed by a team of researchers from the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Hospital after analyzing health data of roughly 2,300 adults in the area of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Dr. Steven Kittner, lead author of the study, said that this discovery should be a wake up call for people to be aware of the dangers of obesity. “This is yet another reason to dedicate resources to reversing the obesity epidemic among children and young adults,” Kittner said in a news release.

Obese male adults were found with the greatest risk for stroke at 73 percent, compared to women who were 46 percent likely to suffer a stroke. The scope of the study involved adults who suffered their first stroke between the age of 15 and 49.

Although the researchers identified smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure as aggravating factors to stroke, they emphasized that obesity should be seriously considered. “Prevention of obesity is important since there is convincing evidence that obesity contributes to risk of diabetes and elevated blood pressure,” Kittner added.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that more than a third of adults in the U.S. — amounting to roughly 78 million individuals — are obese.


Medical Marijuana

New Rules For Marijuana Dispensaries Released In Massachusetts

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Procedures for issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts have recently been overhauled by the Department of Public Health.

The program update released on May 15 states that “the Application Process for Registered Marijuana Dispensaries has been revised.” The new set of rules were posted on the state government website:

Effective February 1, 2015, paper certifications from physicians will no longer be sufficient for compliance with registration requirements under DPH Marijuana Regulations. All patients, including those currently holding a paper certification, must obtain an electronic certification from their physician and be registered with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program to possess marijuana for medical use.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel emphasized the reason behind the revision. “This change creates a more streamlined, efficient and transparent process that allows the commonwealth to maintain the highest standards of both public safety and accessibility,” Bharel said in a news statement. The state will start accepting new applications to follow the updated dispensary rules on June 29.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Federal Government to Insurance Companies: Contraceptives Are Part Of Female Coverage

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In an updated statement related to the Affordable Care Act, the federal government emphasized the inclusion of FDA-approved contraceptives in the healthcare coverage.

An updated FAQ about the implementation of the federal health care act said that “all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity” are included in the provisions of the act. All contraceptives may be recommended by a health care provider. The statement further stipulates that “plans and issuers must cover without cost sharing at least one form of contraception in each of the methods… that the FDA has identified for women in its current Birth Control Guide.”

Several women’s groups expressed their joy and support for the policy statement of the federal government, according to a news release. “It is past time for insurers to adhere to the law and stop telling women that their chosen method isn’t covered or that they must pay for it,” said Gretchen Borchelt, who works as vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center. “Insurance companies have been breaking the law and, today, the Obama Administration underscored that it will not tolerate these violations.”

In addition to this, the policy statement also tells insurance companies to cover testing for BRCA gene mutation, which is a known precursor to certain aggressive cancers.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Angioplasty Patients Experience Less Chest Pain Upon Quitting Smoking

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It’s hardly a novel discovery for healthy individuals, but this recent study confirms the benefits of kicking the habit.

A new study conducted by a team of researchers at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute revealed that quitting smoking after angioplasty leads to a lower likelihood of patients experiencing chest pains. More than 2,700 adults who underwent angioplasty — a non-surgical treatment to address obstructed veins or arteries as a result of atherosclerosis — were asked about their smoking habits during and after the procedure.

Results showed a lower rate of chest pains in patients who stopped smoking after angioplasty compared to those who continued to use cigarettes. “It’s a no-brainer. Stopping smoking seems like a relatively easy way to increase your chances of getting the best outcomes from angioplasty,” study senior author Dr. John Spertus said in a news report.

Roughly 1 million U.S. adults undergo angioplasty, and so findings of the study could benefit thousands of patients from fewer chest pains. “It’s not just important that we do a good job treating the blockage… Cardiologists have to work with patients to help them stop smoking, whether it means nicotine replacement, a smoking cessation program or some other intervention,” Spertus added.

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Health & Wellness

B.B. King Dies In His Sleep At Age 89

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More than a month after being sent to the hospital for diabetes-related dehydration, legendary blues musician B.B. King died in his Las Vegas home on Thursday, May 14.

An AP report said that the King of Blues died in his sleep at 9:40 PM PDT, according to King’s attorney Brent Bryson. His death was confirmed by John Fudenberg, coroner at Clark County. Shirley King, the musician’s daughter, expressed her frustration over not being able to see her father before his peaceful passing.

King’s health has been on a decline over the years, and was diagnosed with diabetes. Aside from his dehydration bout in April, King was also reported to have collapsed during his Chicago concert in October 2014. Despite having an active career well into his prime, he has been taken under medical care in his home.

No confirmation regarding funeral arrangements have been finalized as of this writing.

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Addiction Substance Abuse

Lower Risk of Relapse for Alcoholics Enrolled in Treatment Program

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Alcohol treatment programs may not guarantee a person’s total cure from alcohol addiction, but a new study discovered that it’s better than having no intervention at all.

A study funded by the European Social Fund showed that people who are enrolled in alcohol treatment programs after being mandated to do so have a lower likelihood of committing a similar offense. Results of the study, which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, revealed that offenders who failed to join any treatment program had twice more likelihood of being charged with reoffending. They were also 2.5 times more susceptible to getting convicted again.

The research team from Plymouth University said that enrolling male alcohol offenders to treatment programs generates many benefits. “Given the hundreds if not thousands of offenders who might be eligible to attend an alcohol treatment program each year, this could amount to substantial public savings. Beyond financial gains, committing fewer offences and staying out of prison have strong and continued benefits for the offenders, their families, and the community,” the researchers said in a news item.

The study was a joint effort of Plymouth University, University of Exeter and the Virginia Commonwealth University.