Ginger Plumbo (@gplumbo)
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Feb. 27, 2014 — Here are highlights from the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit http://www.HealthLetter.MayoClinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-333-9037, extension 9771. Full newsletter text: Mayo Clinic Health Letter February 2014 (for journalists only). Full special report text: Mayo Clinic Health Letter Special Report February 2014 (for journalists only).
Older adults often report a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. In an eight-page Special Report on sleep, the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers changes in sleep that can occur with aging and how to get better sleep without taking pills.
Poor sleep isn’t an inevitable part of aging. Yet, older adults are twice as likely to be prescribed a sedative medication for insomnia as are young adults. These medications ― zolpidem (Ambien, others), eszopiclone (Lunesta) or zaleplon (Sonata) ― aren’t meant to be used beyond four to eight weeks. Many older adults use them for months or years even though these medications can cause unwanted side effects including residual sleepiness during the day, dizziness, lightheadedness and mental impairment.
Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers several nondrug approaches and strategies that have proved to help relieve insomnia. Strategies include:
Exercise: Evidence shows that incorporating regular exercise into the daily routine improves sleep. Exercise increases the amount of energy expended, and the amounts of “feel-good” hormones (endorphins) the body produces. Both are likely to lead to better sleep.
What’s your heart health IQ? Learn the facts and share the signs
MINNEAPOLIS — Feb. 5, 2014 — Heart disease affects all of us, either directly or indirectly. It is the leading cause of death in the United States. In an effort to make a positive difference in women’s heart health, Progresso Heart Healthy soup is launching “The Heart Project,” in support of Mayo Clinic. The Heart Project is designed to inspire people to learn the facts, take action regarding their heart health, and spread the word with others during February for heart health month.
The Heart Project site — http://www.theheartproject.com — hosted by Progresso with content from Mayo Clinic, will encourage people to take the Heart Health Quiz. The quiz offers tools and information to educate them on the disease while sharing tips and ideas to help lower one’s risk of heart disease. Those who take the quiz are encouraged to share the information with a friend or loved one and start a conversation about heart disease.
“Heart disease is the nation’s number one cause of death for both men and women,” said Sharon Mulvagh, M.D., director of the Women’s Heart Clinic at Mayo Clinic. “What’s most astonishing is that almost 80% of heart disease is preventable, and even small lifestyle changes can have a big impact. Making a difference in your heart health is easier and more enjoyable than you may think.”
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Mulvagh are available in the downloads.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Jan. 30, 2014 — Here are highlights from the January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit http://healthletter.mayoclinic.com/ or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-333-9037, extension 9771. Full newsletter text: Mayo Clinic Health Letter January 2014 (for journalists only).
Pacemakers ― Getting Better for 50 Years
For more than 50 years, pacemakers have been used to maintain a steady heart rhythm in hearts that beat too slowly. The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter provides an overview of these implanted high-technology devices that have become a routine part of medical care, both prolonging life and improving quality of life.
Over the years, pacemakers have gotten smaller, more durable and have been loaded with more helpful features. When a heart is beating too slowly or in an uncoordinated way, the pacemaker starts sending electrical impulses to
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Jan. 24, 2014 — Mayo Clinic has launched the next evolution of its presence on the Web, by integrating its three existing external websites — mayoclinic.com, mayo.edu and mayoclinic.org — into a single platform. This is the single largest project undertaken in the history of Mayo Clinic’s Web assets and involves an estimated 60,000 Web pages. Mayo Clinic draws about 50 million unique visitors per month collectively to its three main Web domains.
“Web integration is part of Mayo Clinic’s effort to deliver actionable knowledge and intelligence to improve care and reduce costs,” says Roger Harms, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic’s Web Steering Committee. “We maintain a market-leading Web presence in the consumer health and health care markets that provides people around the world with a window into Mayo Clinic’s knowledge, expertise and services.”
The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living helps tackle new year’s resolutions and find joy and contentment in the new year
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Jan. 2, 2014 — Americans will start the New Year with resolutions that are doomed to fail if they don’t deal with the underlying issue of stress before they join a gym, start a diet or throw the cigarettes away. Research shows that stress negatively impacts our ability to lose weight, quit smoking and stick with a new healthy lifestyle change.
In The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, Mayo Clinic stress management and resiliency expert Amit Sood, M.D., draws on decades of groundbreaking research to offer readers a scientifically proven, structured and practical approach to reducing stress. He explains the brain’s two modes — focused mode and default mode — and how an imbalance between the two produces unwanted stress, and he shares new insights about how the mind works, including its natural tendency to wander. In this easy-to-follow guide, Dr. Sood provides actionable steps to cultivate emotional and mental strength, find greater fulfillment and nurture a kind disposition.
The book answers:
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Daily food choices present an opportunity to score some healthy, flavorful, antioxidant-positive nutrition points, according to the November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
Why pay attention to antioxidants? They help minimize the impact of free radicals, which are an unstable byproduct of natural cell metabolism. Free radicals also are found in the environment, in exposure to sunlight, air pollution and cigarette smoke. Free radicals trigger cell and tissue damage through a process called oxidation. This damage may play a part in the development of many different diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and some eye diseases.
The Mayo Clinic Health Letter details many of the foods that pack a high-antioxidant punch, including:
Berries: Colorful berries, particularly blueberries and strawberries, appear to have heart-healthy effects. Research suggests they may lower blood pressure and positively influence blood vessel health.
Curcumin: Curcumin is found in the spice turmeric, the main spice used to prepare curry. Curcumin is thought to have antioxidant properties, as it may decrease swelling and inflammation. Preliminary research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer and possibly slow the spread of cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables: This family includes broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, kale and turnips. Research suggests these foods have a protective effect in preventing prostate, colorectal and lung cancers.
Corn: Corn often gets a bad rap as a starchy vegetable. But yellow corn, and even cornmeal, contain substances known for strong antioxidant and anti-inflammation activities.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — For people with diabetes, a small cut or blister on the foot is an open invitation for infection and potentially more serious complications, including amputation.
The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers why a daily foot-care routine is critically important for people with diabetes.
High blood sugar from diabetes can damage nerves in the feet. Damaged nerve networks reduce feeling, so a small injury may not cause noticeable pain. Nerve changes due to diabetes also can cause skin to become very dry, contributing to peeling and cracking. Diabetes also narrows arteries, reducing blood flow to the feet. With less blood flow, sores, wounds and minor injuries are slow to heal.
The Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers these tips [...]
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Most people have accumulated some unnecessary stuff they find hard to toss, donate or recycle. But for people with a hoarding disorder, the urge to accumulate — and an inability to discard — spirals out of control. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers hoarding disorder and treatment approaches.
A key distinction between a hoarder and a collector — or someone who is just messy and disorganized — is when the haphazard accumulation of stuff begins to interfere with social life and the ability to do necessary work. At its extreme, hoarding results in cramped, often unsanitary living conditions with only narrow passageways winding through stacks of clutter. Health risks increase as piles accumulate. Risks include the increased likelihood of falls and fires, social isolation, difficulty with finances, and even eviction.
Hoarding tends to run in families. Signs of hoarding often emerge as early as the teens and become more severe by middle age. The death of a spouse, divorce, children moving away or health problems may tilt an older adult toward more extreme hoarding.
About 75 percent of the time, hoarding occurs in conjunction with other mental issues such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol dependence, dementia or anxiety. For some, hoarding is a distinct syndrome. In this case, people may not experience much, or any, embarrassment, worry or stress about hoarding.
Those who recognize their problem often are ready to seek treatment. Therapy for the underlying mental condition often is a first step and it may help reduce hoarding impulses. Still, sticking with therapy and clearing out possessions will likely be challenging.
For those who don't see hoarding as a concern, successful intervention typically works best with a team of professionals, loved ones and friends. The approach is to build trust and help the hoarder gain insight into the need to clear out the living space. Dwellings that are cleaned up without the consent of the hoarder won't address the underlying problem. And, a forced cleanup may make the hoarder more suspicious of help and cling to possessions even more.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Patients waiting for a lifesaving transplant rely heavily on the public to make the choice to be organ donors. The shortage of deceased donor organs has reached a crisis, with almost 120,000 people in need of a lifesaving organ nationwide. Over 3,000 of those are Mayo Clinic patients. For kidney, liver and bone marrow transplant, living donors can help shorten the wait time for many patients.
MULTIMEDIA ALERT: Videos of Dr. Phil Fischer, recent kidney donor; and Dr. Mikel Prieto, kidney transplant surgeon, are available for download on the Mayo Clinic News Network.
According to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), in the United States in 2012, there were 5,617 kidney transplants from living donors; 161 of those were from anonymous donors. In 1992, there were 2,534 kidney transplants from living donors; and none of those were from anonymous donors. Despite the increase in living donor transplants, however, there are now twice as many people being added to the waiting list each year, compared to the waiting list 20 years ago.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mindfulness — sometimes called a form of meditation or therapy — can enrich lives, calm minds and even improve health. The October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letterdescribes mindfulness in-depth in an eight-page Special Report.
Rooted in ancient traditions, mindfulness has many descriptions. In general, it's a conscious effort to be completely present, setting aside worries, expectations and other thoughts to be fully aware of the current moment.
The report covers suggestions to improve mindfulness as well as its many benefits. Highlights include:
Getting started: While many classes are available, mindfulness doesn't require formal training. A key aspect is paying attention to current surroundings, focusing on one sense at a time. This present-moment focus helps eliminate dwelling on the past, [...]