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Health Updates 30 January 2012

  • Acupuncture may boost pregnancy success rates: “When a couple is trying to have a baby and can’t, it can be emotionally and financially draining.  But help may be available in an unexpected form: acupuncture.  Medical experts believe that this ancient therapy from China, which involves placing numerous thin needles at certain points in the body, can help improve fertility in both men and women.  ‘Acupuncture has been around for almost 3,000 years. It’s safe and there are no bad side effects from it,’ explained Dr. Lisa Lillenfield, a family practice and pain management specialist at the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Va. ‘It may not be the first thing that is done in isolation to treat infertility, but it helps get the body primed and maximizes the potential effects of fertility treatments’.” The procedure relieves stress and appears to help increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, improving the chances of conception.  It also helps correct hormone problems and may aid infertile men by stimulating sperm production.  (HHS/HealthDay)
  • Traffic-related asthma costs underestimated: “The impact that motor vehicle exhaust has on asthma costs is much bigger than once thought, researchers warned….Evidence that traffic-related pollution causes asthma among children who live near major roadways – rather than just exacerbating it – has emerged over the past couple of years.  The researchers used a new approach to determine the impact of air pollution from vehicles in Riverside and Long Beach [CA], where traffic is the main culprit in poor air quality and heavily used roads are close the residential neighborhoods.  Specifically, they looked more closely at two outcomes: bronchitic  episodes and the cost of care for a child with asthma.  About a third of the annual cost of an asthma case stemmed indirectly from school absences, and another quarter from sinus and ear infections and other related conditions.  Asthma costs could be cut by improving air quality and enacting policies to discourage building homes near major roadways, the researchers noted.” (Crystal Phend, MedPage Today)
  • Health Tip: Preparing for a stress test:“A cardiac stress test gives doctors an idea of how your heart functions at rest and when it’s under ‘stress’ from activities such as treadmill exercise.  The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute says you can prepare for the test by:  1). dressing comfortably in workout clothes, including footwear designed for exercise; 2). checking with your doctor to see if you need to avoid food and water before the test; 3). checking with your doctor, if you’re diabetic, to see if you should adjust your medication before the rest; 4). asking your doctor if you need to avoid caffeinated beverages, certain foods or over-the-counter medications before the test; and 5). bringing any inhaler you use to the test and letting the doctor know about it.” (HealthDay)
  • Take blood pressure in both arms, study says: “Doctors who make a habit of measuring blood pressure in only one arm may be doing their patients a disservice.  A new study shows that differences in blood pressure readings between a patient’s right and left arm could be a sign of vascular disease and a greater risk of dying from heart disease.  The study, published in The Lancet, suggests doctors should always take blood pressure readings in both arms – an existing guideline that is widely ignored….Dr. [Christopher] Clark said the need for measuring blood pressure in both arms is clear. ‘If we don’t know to measure both arms, we’re not going to make the right diagnosis and the right treatment choices for our patients,’ he said.  ‘If you measure an arm where the blood pressure is lower than the other arm, you may be falsely reassured that the blood pressure is normal or is being adequately treated, when in fact the blood pressure is still high’.” (NY Times)
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