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Health Updates 19 April 2012

  • Infected gums not likely cause of heart disease: “Healthy gums aren’t proven to prevent heart disease, nor will treating periodontal disease clearly reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).  The two conditions are linked through common risk factors without convincing evidence for a causal relationship, the statement cautioned in the May 22 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.  ‘Patients and providers are increasingly presented with claims that periodontal disease treatment strategies offer atherosclerotic vascular disease protection; these claims are often endorsed by professional and industrial stakeholders,’ Peter B. Lockhart, DDS, and colleagues wrote, warning that such assertions ‘are unwarranted’.”  A link between oral health and cardiovascular disease has been proposed for many years.  It is suggested that oral bacteria from periodontal disease enter the blood and may contribute to vascular disease.  “With the intense interest and active research, a strong causative link likely would have been found already if there were one, Lockhart argued in a press release.” However, a lack of a clear causative relationship is not permission to neglect oral health.  Good oral hygiene and dental treatment are an important part of  healthy lifestyle. (Crystal Phend, MedPage Today)
  • Optimism might cut your risk for heart attack: “Being upbeat is good for your heart, a new study suggests.  Many previous studies have shown that negative mental states — such as depression, anger, anxiety and hostility — can harm the heart.  This Harvard School of Public Health review of more than 200 studies found that positive feelings appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and events such as heart attack and stroke.  ‘The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive,’ lead author Julia Boehm…said in a university news release.  ‘We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk of [cardiovascular disease] regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status and body weight’….The researchers also found that people with a sense of psychological well-being engaged in healthy behaviors such as exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient sleep.  In addition, greater psychological well-being was associated with lower blood pressure, healthier blood-fat status and normal body weight.” (HealthDay)
  • Weight-loss surgery beat drugs for cutting diabetes in very obese: “A bariatric surgical procedure is more likely than medicine to improve or even reverse type 2 diabetes in very obese patients, a new small study indicates.  Italian researchers compared standard diabetes medicine with a surgical procedure known as the  laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and while 80 percent of those treated with the surgery had remission of their diabetes within 18 months, none of those treated with medicine did.  ‘In our opinion, 80 percent diabetes resolution is a dramatically excellent result, compared with results of a medical approach in which there’s not diabetes resolution,’ said lead researcher Dr. Nicola Basso, a professor of surgery at the University of Rome, Sapienza.  All those who had surgery and had diabetes less than 10 years reversed it….In the procedure, doctors remove about 85 percent of the stomach and shape the remaining portion into a tube or sleeve.  Fewer calories can be eaten, and weight loss is the result….Those who had the surgery had improvements in other areas.  Sleep apnea dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent.  After surgery, patients reduced their use of medicine for high blood pressure and cholesterol problems.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Troubled homes may fuel obesity in girls: “Little girls from troubled homes are more likely to be obese at age 5 than girls from happier ones, new research shows.  However, researchers did not find that same association between boys’ weight and difficult family situations.  In the study, researchers looked at data on more than 1,600 preschoolers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which tracks the health and well-being of children born to mostly low-income, single-mother families….When their children were aged 1 and 3, mothers were asked about six stressors: domestic violence, depression, drug use, housing insecurity, food insecurity (meaning that their household didn’t always have enough nutritious food to eat) and whether the child’s father was in prison.  Children’s height and weight was measured at age 5.  At 5 years old, 17 percent of the children were obese…being heavier than 95 percent of their peers for their height.  Girls whose mothers reported experiencing two or more stressors when their daughter was age 1 were twice as likely to be obese at age 5.  If the mother reported experiencing two or more stressors when the daughter was age 3, the girl was also about twice as likely to be obese….The results suggest that pediatricians and others trying to stem the childhood obesity epidemic need to consider the family dynamics and home environment, rather than just the girl’s weight.” (NIH/MedlinePlus)
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