Optimistic outlook may be healthier – Harvard Study

n a population of relatively young and healthy U.S. Army active-duty soldiers, we found that those who tested highest for optimism at the start of the study had a 22% lower risk of developing hypertension during three-and-a-half years of follow-up than those who scored the lowest. We know that people in the military are more susceptible to early-onset hypertension because of the stressors associated with their jobs (for example, combat exposure), so it was striking to see that much of a protective effect—and also that the finding held for both women and men, and across racial and ethnic groups, according to a Harvard School of Health study that found a link between optimism and hypertension.

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We took into account of a lot of other factors that might have explained away the apparent effects of optimism, including number of deployments, smoking, and levels of depression, but none of them substantially altered our key finding. People who are optimistic don’t tend to be depressed, but our analysis further suggests that optimism confirms protection over and above signaling the absence of a risk factor—it’s a positive health asset.

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Study further pinpoints brain regions that may control fatigue

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine using MRI scans and computer modeling say they have further pinpointed areas of the human brain that regulate efforts to deal with fatigue.

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The findings, they say, could advance the development of behavioral and other strategies that increase physical performance in healthy people, and also illuminate the neural mechanisms that contribute to fatigue in people with depression, multiple sclerosis and stroke.

Results of the research were published online in Nature Communications.

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Can you have the coronavirus and the flu at the same time?

Can you get the seasonal flu along with the raging coronavirus at the same time? That may be the question on everyone’s mind this pandemic pre-flu season. The following is what Johns Hopkins Medicine has to say on the subject.

Unfortunately, yes — and if you have the coronavirus and the flu at the same time, the resulting impact could be even more severe than having either infection alone. By this fall, some areas may have a test available that can look for both the coronavirus and flu viruses so you only need one test.

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Insomnia, Sleeping Less Than Six Hours May Increase Risk of Cognitive Impairment

Middle-aged adults who report symptoms of insomnia and are sleeping less than six hours a night may be at increased risk of cognitive impairment, according to a study by Penn State College of Medicine researchers. The results may help health care professionals understand which patients who report insomnia are at increased risk for developing dementia.

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Insomnia is characterized by reports of difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep. When these symptoms occur at least 3 nights a week and for at least 3 months, it is considered a chronic disorder. Researchers found that adults who reported insomnia and obtained less than six hours of measured sleep in the laboratory were two times more likely to have cognitive impairment than people with the same insomnia complaints who got six or more hours of sleep in the lab. The study results were published in the journal SLEEP on September 24.

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Sweet success: Heavy consumption of sugary beverages declined in the US from 2003 to 2016

Finally, there is some good news to report on our addiction to sugary beverages in this country.

The percentage of heavy sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumers – those who drink more than 500 calories of SSBs daily – trended downwards in the United States between 2003 and 2016, according to a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Among children, the percentage of heavy SSB consumers declined from 11 percent to 3 percent consistently across age group, sex, family income level, and most race/ethnicities. For adults, the percentage of heavy SSB consumers declined from about 13 percent to 9 percent overall, but there was variation among different age, sex, and racial/ethnic groups.

“Our study contributes important new evidence and insights to research on SSB consumption, and it tells a public health success story. The percentage of children and adults who are heavy sugary beverage drinkers has declined significantly, which is similar to trends in overall SSB consumption. Public health strategies to reduce excessive intake of sugary beverages appear to be working,” said senior investigator Sara N. Bleich, PhD, Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.

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Weekend funnies …

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time believing that we are getting close to October. Have a great weekend!

As a stick shift driver, I had to run this one.
I shot this and had to include it as a story-telling photo. This bike rack is in front of the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. I wondered what business the pint-sized owner had there.

Tony

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Squash It! – Tufts University

Autumn is here, and with it comes a wide variety of versatile winter squash. This seasonal staple can expand the nutritional profile and brighten the appearance of your fall and winter plate—while also tantalizing your palate.

Winter Squash 101: Winter squash is neither grown nor harvested in winter, but its lengthy storage time allows us to enjoy it throughout the winter. There are hundreds of varieties of squash, each with a unique size, shape, color, texture, and flavor.

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Why COVID-19 Means You Need a Flu Shot This Year – UCSF

I have been writing this blog since March 2010. There are approximately 4000 posts in here. Without a doubt, one of the most incendiary topics in that entire time is … flu shots. I get one every year. My doctor tells me to. I listen to her and I got one on Friday. I think you should, too. In view of the pandemic it is even more important.

As the flu season approaches in the United States, health experts are warning that the addition of another respiratory illness on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could overburden the health care system, strain testing capacity, and increase the risk of catching both diseases at once, according to the University of California San Francisco.

In a bad flu season, which peaks from December to February, 40 million to 50 million Americans may catch the flu, with some 800,000 requiring hospitalization, according to Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco.

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“So the worry is that with the onset of the flu season, you’re going to get peaks of flu and COVID-19 cases at the same time,” he said. “Even with a mild flu season, the convergence with a COVID surge could very rapidly overwhelm our hospital system.”

Unlike COVID-19, however, the flu is a familiar foe, and a safe and effective vaccine is available every year.

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Diabetes complications in children linked to worse memory, IQ

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious but common complication of type 1 diabetes, is linked to  lower IQ scores and worse memory in children with type 1 diabetes, according to a study led by UC Davis Health researchers. The study published Sept. 22 in Diabetes Care is also the first large-scale work to differentiate between DKA’s impact on children with a new diagnosis and children with a previous diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

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DKA happens when diabetes goes undiagnosed or is poorly managed. With DKA, blood sugar gets very high as acidic substances called ketones build up to dangerous levels in the body. Early signs of DKA include excessive thirst, frequent urination, and nausea, abdominal pain, weakness and confusion.

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Rising U.S. stress, depression linked to pandemic-related losses, media consumption

Experiencing multiple stressors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic – such as unemployment – and COVID-19-related media consumption are directly linked to rising acute stress and depressive symptoms across the U.S., according to a groundbreaking University of California, Irvine study.

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The report appears in Science Advances, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The pandemic is not hitting all communities equally,” said lead author E. Alison Holman, UCI professor of nursing. “People have lost wages, jobs and loved ones with record speed. Individuals living with chronic mental and physical illness are struggling; young people are struggling; poor communities are struggling. Mental health services need to be tailored to those most in need right now.”

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Most homemade masks work, even when we sneeze – Study

Studies indicate that homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19 when combined with frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. Many of these studies focus on the transfer of tiny aerosol particles; however, researchers say that speaking, coughing and sneezing generates larger droplets that carry virus particles. Because of this, mechanical engineer Taher Saif said the established knowledge may not be enough to determine the effectiveness of some fabrics used in homemade masks.

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Saif, a mechanical science and engineering professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, led a study that examined the effectiveness of common household fabrics in blocking droplets. The findings are published in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters.

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Depression, not anxiety, linked with inflammation and metabolic change

Anxiety and depression are often linked and assumed to be closely related, but now research has shown for the first time that depression and anxiety have different biochemical associations with inflammation and lipid (fat) metabolism. This indicates that different, more targeted treatments may be possible to treat anxiety and depression. This work was presented at the ECNP Congress.

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Depression and anxiety share several symptoms, have common risk factors, and often they are treated with the same drugs. Over 50% of patients with depression (Major Depressive Disorder) also have a history of anxiety. Nevertheless, psychiatrists classify them as different disorders, although until now it has been difficult to identify biochemical evidence for this.

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What is a Pulse Oximeter from Costco?

It’s fair to say that the novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people shop—and also the items they shop for. There has been a shortage of things one might expect: toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and thermometers. But, there are other—more surprising—items like yoga mats, yeast, and, more recently, pulse oximeters.

So, what, exactly, is a pulse oximeter?

It’s an electronic device that clips onto a patient’s finger to measure heart rate and oxygen saturation in his or her red blood cells—the device is useful in assessing patients with lung disease. Pulse oximeters started to fly off store (and online) shelves when people learned that low oxygen saturation levels can be a sign of COVID-19, according to Yale Medicine.

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Funny you should ask.

The pulse oximeter pictured here is a neat little gadget that Costco is selling. As you can see from the picture, it monitors your Heart Rate (pulse), Oxygen Level and your Blood Flow. In sum, very useful information provided in a matter of seconds with no penetration of your flesh. There is even a cool graph of your heart beat on the screen.350-588488-847__1 In this period of wearables, the Pulse Oximeter is reminiscent of the first cell phones. But, you can feel like a camp counselor and wear it around your neck using the attached lanyard.

Before I go into explanations and specifications, I want to disclose that I bought one of these and have been using it for a week now. Love it! It is particularly useful when I am stair climbing. I like to get a handle on how my heart rate accelerates on…

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Weekend funnies

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Obesity Could Increase Vulnerability to COVID-19

I have written about the vulnerability to various maladies from obesity more times than I can remember. Now, it seems, obesity can result in negative implications attached to COVID-19.

Conditions related to obesity, including inflammation and leaky gut, leave the lungs of obese patients more susceptible to COVID-19 and may explain why they are more likely to die from the disease, UTSW scientists say in a new article published online in eLife. They suggest that drugs used to lower inflammation in the lungs could prove beneficial to obese patients with the disease.

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COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, varies widely in clinical severity: Some patients are asymptomatic while others have devastating forms that have led to more than 905,000 deaths worldwide.

Several pre-existing conditions have been shown to increase the risk of COVID-19 severity, including obesity and Type 2 diabetes – two conditions that often go hand-in-hand, says Philipp Scherer, Ph.D., director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research and a professor of internal medicine and cell biology at UT Southwestern.

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Middle-aged adults with healthy heart habits may lower high blood pressure risk years later

Better heart health, as measured by the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) scale, was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) in middle-aged, Black and white adults, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“High blood pressure is among the most common conditions in the U.S., and it contributes to the greatest burden of disability and largest reduction in healthy life expectancy among any disease,” said Timothy B. Plante, M.D., M.H.S., lead study author and assistant professor in the department of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “Even though high blood pressure causes so much death and disability, we don’t know the root cause of it.”

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