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December 4, 2007, 10:10 PM CT

Transcendental meditation reduces high blood pressure

Transcendental meditation reduces high blood pressure
People with hypertension may find relief from Transcendental Meditation, as per a definitive new meta-analysis of 107 published studies on stress reduction programs and high blood pressure, which would be reported in the recent issue of Current High blood pressure Reports.

The Transcendental Meditation technique produces a statistically significant reduction in hypertension that is not found with other forms of relaxation, meditation, biofeedback or stress management.

The new meta-analysis evaluated randomized, controlled trials of all stress reduction and relaxation methods in participants with hypertension that have been published in peer-evaluated scientific journals.

Blood pressure changes for the Transcendental Meditation technique included average reductions of 5.0 points on systolic blood pressure and 2.8 on diastolic blood pressure, which were statistically significant, as per the review. The other stress reduction programs did not show significant changes in blood pressure.

Blood pressure changes linked to Transcendental Meditation practice were consistent with other controlled studies showing reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, improved markers of heart disease, and reduced mortality rates among participants in the Transcendental Meditation program.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 3, 2007, 10:13 PM CT

Heavy drinking and high-risk sexual behavior

Heavy drinking and high-risk sexual behavior
Psychiatry scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have observed that a clinical diagnosis of alcohol dependence in young adults is linked to having a high number of sex partners.

"Some participants in the study reported 50 or 100 partners, and research shows - and common sense tells you - that the more sex partners you have, the more likely you'll encounter someone with an STD," says first author Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, Ph.D., research instructor in the Department of Psychiatry. "Chances also increase for unintended pregnancies and other health complications".

The study, reported in the recent issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, also found links between a conduct disorder diagnosis and high numbers of sexual partners as well as between problem drinking and more partners. Of the three, however, alcohol dependence had the most influence on number of sex partners.

Alcohol dependence is an excessive use of alcohol that's harmful to physical and mental health. Some alcohol-dependent people drink every day. Others may drink only sporadically but consume large amounts of alcohol when they do drink. That sort of binge drinking is especially common in adolescents and young adults, like those surveyed in this study. Problem drinkers, conversely, have a number of of the same symptoms, and may go on to become dependent, but they were not alcohol dependent when the study was conducted.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 9:23 PM CT

Out-of-hours doctors reluctant to do home visits

Out-of-hours doctors reluctant to do home visits
Patients feel that doctors providing out-of-hours services in primary care are reluctant to do home visits, shows a small study of patients experiences in Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Scientists held group discussions and carried out telephone interviews with 27 patients who had recently used one of three services providing general practice cover in the evenings and weekends in England.

Under the new GP contract, which came into effect in 2004, most GP practices handed over responsibility for providing care out of hours to the local primary care organisation.

Instead, patients are redirected to dedicated services, which may offer telephone advice, home visits, or an appointment at a therapy centre.

Two of the services covered up to 300,000 people in three primary care trusts, while one covered almost 1 million people from eight primary care trusts.

Once patients had got through and had actually spoken to a healthcare professional, they were generally happy with the quality of service they received.

But a number of said they were uncertain as to the appropriateness of their call or even how the service worked.

Half said they felt guilty about calling amid fears that they might be wasting the doctors time or abusing the system.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 9:00 PM CT

Nurses working extended shifts

Nurses working extended shifts
Hospital staff nurses who work extended hours, work at night, struggle to remain awake at work, or obtain less sleep are more likely to experience a drowsy driving episode, as per a research studyreported in the December 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Linda D. Scott, PhD, of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., focused on data that were collected from 895 full-time hospital staff nurses, who completed logbooks on a daily basis for four weeks providing information concerning work hours, sleep duration, drowsy and sleep episodes at work, and drowsy driving occurrences.

As per the results, almost 67 percent of the nurses reported at least one episode of drowsy driving, and three percent reported experiencing drowsy driving following every shift worked. On average, nurses reported experiencing an episode of drowsy driving one out of every four shifts they worked.

Two-hundred eighty-one episodes of motor vehicle crashes/near-motor vehicle crashes were reported during the study period. The majority of these incidents occurred following shifts that exceeded 12.5 hours in duration. The likelihood of a motor vehicle crash/near-motor vehicle crash significantly increased with longer shift durations. The risk for a motor vehicle crash/near-motor vehicle crash almost doubled when driving following shifts that exceeded 12.5 hours.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:56 PM CT

Short, long sleep duration and increased mortality

Short, long sleep duration and increased mortality
A study reported in the December 1 issue of the journal SLEEP is the first to show that both a decrease and an increase in sleep duration are linked to an elevated risk of mortality by cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular means, respectively.

The study, authored by Jane E. Ferrie, PhD, of the University College London Medical School in London, U.K., focused on 10,308 participants between 35 and 55 years of age. Baseline screening (Phase 1), conducted between 1985 and 1988, involved a clinical examination and a self-administered questionnaire. Data collection at Phase 3 (1992-1993) also included a clinical examination (8,104 participants) and questionnaire (8,642 participants).

As per the results, U-shaped associations were observed between sleep at Phase 1 and Phase 3 and subsequent all-cause, cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular mortality. A decrease in sleep duration among participants sleeping six, seven or eight hours at baseline was linked to a 110 percent excess risk of cardiovascular mortality. However, an increase in sleep duration among those sleeping seven or eight hours at baseline was linked to a 110 percent excess risk of non-cardiovascular mortality. Adjustment for the socio-demographic factors, existing mortality and health-related behaviors measured left these associations largely unchanged.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

Mental illness and drug addiction may co-occur

Mental illness and drug addiction may co-occur
Why do mental illness and drug addiction so often go together" New research reveals that this type of dual diagnosis may stem from a common cause: developmental changes in the amygdala, a walnut-shaped part of the brain associated with fear, anxiety and other emotions. A full report on why these comorbid disorders may develop appears in the December Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Dual diagnosis is common yet difficult to treat. Addiction of all types to nicotine, alcohol and drugs is often found in people with a wide variety of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, unipolar and bipolar depression, schizophrenia, and borderline and other personality disorders. Lead author Andrew Chambers, MD, cites clinical reports that at least half the people who seek help with addiction or mental-health therapy have co-occurring disorders. Epidemiological data says that from two to five of every 10 anxious or depressed people, and from four to eight of every 10 people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality, also have some type of addiction.

To find the scientific basis for this complex, seemingly intractable pairing, which has in the past been attributed to self-medication, Chambers team at the Indiana University medical school compared the adult mood- and drug-related behavior of two groups of adult rats: those whose amygdalas were surgically damaged in infancy and those whose amygdalas were left intact but who underwent a sham surgery, to equalize their therapy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 1, 2007, 6:44 PM CT

Difficult Choice: Low-Calorie or Low Prices?

Difficult Choice: Low-Calorie or Low Prices?
High-calorie foods tend to cost less than lower-calorie items and are less likely to increase in price due to inflation a possible explanation for why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups, as per scientists at the University of Washington.

High-calorie foods provide the most calories at the least cost, the scientists found in a survey of more than 370 food items at three Seattle-area supermarket chains. The lowest calorie-dense foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, while foods highest in calories include candy, pastries and other baked goods and snacks. The survey found low-calorie foods increased in price by 19.5 percent over a two-year period, while high-calorie items dropped in price by 1.8 percent.

The findings that energy-dense foods are not only the least expensive but also most resistant to inflation may help explain why the highest rates of obesity continue to be observed among groups of limited economic means, as per the researchers.

The scientists conclude: The sharp price increase observed for vegetables and fruit relative to fats and sweets suggest that the ability to adopt more-healthful diets may be limited by economic constraints.

Additional research articles in the December Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 1, 2007, 6:35 PM CT

Sleep-disorder obesity and African-Americans

Sleep-disorder obesity and African-Americans
As the obesity epidemic grows in the U.S., doctors are discovering more and more far reaching health concerns for overweight children. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which can include various sleep behaviors ranging in severity from snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), disproportionately affects children who are overweight and African- American, as per a new study reported in the December 2007 edition of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can pose serious health threats, including high blood pressure and higher risk for cardiac disease.

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond studied 299 children, ages 2 to 18 years old. The principal study group consisted of children scheduled to undergo adenotonsillectomy for therapy of SDB. The control group consisted of children presenting to a primary care pediatric clinic for well-child visits on randomly selected dates.

Each childs chart was evaluated for demographic data that included age, gender, race/ethnicity, height, and weight. Body mass index was calculated from the height and weight of each child.

Results showed that 46 percent of children scheduled for surgery for SDB were overweight, compared with 33 percent in the control group. This ratio is far less than would be expected in the general population, where obesity in children with SDB would occur approximately ten times more usually than obesity in the general pediatric population. A possible explanation for the smaller ratio of obesity in children with SDB in comparison to controls, is that there may be a lack of awareness of the link between obesity and SDB among primary healthcare providers and caregivers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:29 PM CT

Personality Traits Influence Perceived Attractiveness

Personality Traits Influence Perceived Attractiveness
A new study published in Personal Relationships examines the way in which perceptions of physical attractiveness are influenced by personality. The study finds that individuals - both men and women - who exhibit positive traits, such as honesty and helpfulness, are perceived as better looking. Those who exhibit negative traits, such as unfairness and rudeness, appear to be less physically attractive to observers.

Participants in the study viewed photographs of opposite-sex individuals and rated them for attractiveness before and after being provided with information on personality traits. After personality information was received, participants also rated the desirability of each individual as a friend and as a dating partner. Information on personality was found to significantly alter perceived desirability, showing that cognitive processes and expectations modify judgments of attractiveness.

"Perceiving a person as having a desirable personality makes the person more suitable in general as a close relationship partner of any kind," says study author Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. The findings show that a positive personality leads to greater desirability as a friend, which leads to greater desirability as a romantic partner and, ultimately, to being viewed as more physically attractive. The findings remained consistent regardless of how "attractive" the individual was initially perceived to be, or of the participants' current relationship status or commitment level with a partner.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 28, 2007, 9:54 PM CT

Physical Activity In Middle Age

Physical Activity In Middle Age
Scientists from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK, have concluded a study that proves a direct link between levels of physical activity in middle age and physical ability during the later part of life regardless of body weight.

Dr. Iain Lang headed the research team from the Epidemiology and Public Health Group at the Peninsula Medical School. The team observed that middle-aged people who maintained a reasonable level of physical activity were less likely to become unable to walk distances, climb stairs, maintain their sense of balance, stand from a seated position with their arms folded, or sustain their hand grip as they get older.

Research showed that, among men and women aged 50 to 69 years and across all weight ranges, the rate of decreased physical ability during the later part of life was twice as high among those who were less physically active.

The research team studied 8,702 participants in the US Health and Retirement Study and 1,507 people taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Each subject was followed for up to six years.

Findings showed that being overweight or obese was linked to an overall increased risk of physical impairment but that, regardless of weight, people who engaged in heavy housework or gardening, who played sport or who had a physically active job, were more likely to remain mobile during the later part of life.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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