SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) Study Opportunity

11/02/2011

 Mayo Clinic is now recruiting patients for both a “virtual registry” with retrospective and prospective components and development of a DNA biobank of SCAD patients and first degree relatives. If you are a woman who survived a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and are interested in applying to be accepted to a study being conducted at Mayo Clinic by Dr. Sharonne Hayes, access the preliminary information here.

 

 Protocol entails diagnosis confirmation and angiographic review to determine eligibility prior to enrollment in either of the studies. Women with SCAD can access the documents from this link or can request them to be emailed or mailed via the MayoSCAD@mayo.edu email address.
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6 Common Myths About Aging

10/25/2011

from the Aging and Memory Health Center

Think you know the facts about growing older? Think again.

1. Myth: Dementia is an inevitable part of aging.

Fact: “Dementia should be seen as a modifiable health condition and, if it occurs, should be followed as a medical condition, not a normal part of aging,” said Patricia Harris, MD, a geriatrician and associate professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. In other words, if you or your loved one becomes forgetful, it could be related to medication, nutrition or modifiable medical issues, she said. Don’t assume Alzheimer’s.

Just consider that when doctors examined the brain of a 115-year-old woman who, when she died, was the world’s oldest woman, they found essentially normal brain tissue, with no evidence of Alzheimer’s or other dementia-causing conditions. Testing in the years before she died showed no loss in brain function.

Not only is dementia not inevitable with age, but you actually have some control over whether or not you develop it.

“We’re only now starting to understand the linkages between health in your 40s, 50s and 60s and cognitive function later in life,” said Richard Powers, MD, who chairs the medical advisory board of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Studies find that many of the same risk factors that contribute to heart disease—high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity—may also contribute to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

For instance, studies on the brains of elderly people with and without dementia find significant blood vessel damage in those with hypertension. Such damage shrinks the amount of healthy brain tissue you have in reserve, reducing the amount available if a disease like Alzheimer’s hits, Dr. Powers says. That’s important, he says, because we’re starting to understand that the more brain function you have to begin with, the more you can afford to lose before your core functions are affected.

One way to dodge the dementia bullet? Exercise your body and your brain. Physical activity plays a role in reducing the risk of diseases that cause Alzheimer’s. It also builds up that brain reserve. One study found just six months of regular physical activity increased brain volume in 59 healthy but couch-potato individuals ages 60 to 79. Other research finds people who exercised twice a week over an average of 21 years slashed their risk of Alzheimer’s in half.

Then there’s intellectual exercise. “I encourage regular intellectual stimulation,” says Dr. Powers. It doesn’t matter what kind, just that you break out of your comfort zone. Even writing letters twice a week instead of sending e-mail can have brain-strengthening benefits, he said. That’s because such novel activities stimulate more regions of the brain, increasing blood flow and helping to not only build brain connections, but improve the health of existing tissue.

2. Myth: If you didn’t exercise in your 20s, 30s and 40s, it’s too late to start in your 50s, 60s or 70s.

Fact: It’s never too late! In an oft-cited study, 50 men and women with an average age of 87 worked out with weights for 10 weeks and increased their muscle strength 113 percent. Even more important, they also increased their walking speed, a marker of overall physical health in the elderly.

3. Myth: Sex ends when you age.

Fact: A survey of 3,005 people ages 57 to 85 found the chance of being sexually active depended as much if not more on their health and their partner’s health than on their age. Women who rated their health as “very good” or “excellent” were 79 percent more likely to be sexually active than women who rated their health as “poor” or “fair.” And while fewer people ages 75 to 85 had sex than those 57 to 74, more than half (54 percent) of those who were sexually active had intercourse two or three times a month. Just remember: Sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate based on age. If you’re not in a monogamous relationship, you or your partner should use a condom.

4. Myth: Getting older is depressing so expect to be depressed.

Fact: Again, says Dr. Harris, no way! “Depression is highly treatable. If older people could just admit to it and get help, they could probably live a much more active and healthy life.” That’s because studies find that older people who are depressed are more likely to develop memory and learning problems, while other research links depression to an increased risk of death from numerous age-related diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke and pneumonia.

5. Myth: Women fear aging.

Fact: Not so! A survey conducted on behalf of the National Women’s Health Resource Center found that women tend to have a positive outlook on aging and to be inspired by others who also have positive attitudes and who stay active as they grow older. Women surveyed were most likely to view aging as “an adventure and opportunity” and less likely to view it as depressing or a struggle.

6. Myth: The pain and disability caused by arthritis is inevitable as you get older.

Fact: While arthritis is more common as you age, thanks to the impact of time on the cushiony cartilage that prevents joints and bone from rubbing against one another, age itself doesn’t cause arthritis. There are steps you can take in your youth to prevent it, such as losing weight, wearing comfortable, supportive shoes (as opposed to three-inch spikes), and taking it easy with joint-debilitating exercise like running and basketball. One study found women who exercised at least once every two weeks for at least 20 minutes were much less likely to develop arthritis of the knee (the most common location for the disease) than women who exercised less.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Aging Well: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/midlife-and-beyond/aging-well

Alzheimer’s Disease: www.healthywomen.org/condition/alzheimers-disease

Aging and Memory Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/aging-and-memory

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


3 Shortcuts to Exercise Success

10/04/2011

from the Healthy Living area

Are you losing interest in physical activity because you’re not seeing quick results from your efforts?

While there are no magic pills for becoming more fit (and staying that way), some exercises are more effective in less time than others. Check out these three ideas for burning more calories and strengthening muscles faster:

  1. Switch back and forth: It’s called interval training, and it boosts your results by stepping up the intensity or duration of your activity, on and off, throughout your workout. Interval training works like this: Instead of walking for 10 minutes at your usual pace, start by walking at your normal exercise pace for the first two minutes, then increase your speed for the next two minutes, followed by two minutes of your usual pace, and so on. Adapt this system for any length walk. The interval time may vary as well. Your body goes into “active recovery” during the lower speed segments, so you can continue exercising with less risk of injury, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Yet you gain quicker benefits from the higher intensity intervals.
  2. Squat: Pear-shape alert!You’ll strengthen more muscles at one time by doing squats. This exercise works the major muscles in your lower body—the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. When asked to list the most effective exercises, the majority of 17,000 ACE-certified fitness professionals put squats at number one. Make sure your form is correct: with feet at shoulder-width and back straight, bend your knees as you lower your bottom. Don’t let your knees move out over your ankles. If you are doing squats with weights on a barbell (which increases intensity), be sure to have a spotter or trainer check your form.
  3. Rev your engine: All activities are not created equal. For a 135-pound woman, 30 minutes of brisk walking burns 130 calories. In that same 30 minutes, you can lose 258 calories with freestyle swimming or 322 calories by running at a 6 mph pace. Include higher calorie-burning exercises in your activities to boost speedy results.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/condition/stress

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


De-Stress Your Environment

09/26/2011

from the Healthy Living area

by Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH

It’s usually easy to tune out the minor irritants our work and home environments throw our way. Most irritants aren’t major health risks. But, watch out. When minor environmental irritants turn toxic, your surroundings can make you more vulnerable to chronic stress.

Take a minute now to look around the room you are sitting in. Use all your senses to detect any of these common environmental stressors:

  • Clutter
  • Too much noise
  • Unpleasant odors
  • Uncomfortable furniture
  • Bad lighting
  • Poor ventilation

How many have you identified?

Now, look around for things you easily can change and do so.

Many of us can’t make significant changes in our surroundings, particularly at work. So, we need to use our stress-solving skills to buffer ourselves against toxic environmental stress.

Try these problem-solving suggestions for the following environmental stressors:

Climate Control-Your Office or Theirs?
If you have a client or co-worker who loves extreme temperatures -either freezing or tropical — that interfere with your productivity or attention span, suggest that you have meetings in your office.

Scent-sational?
If someone in the office consistently comes to work bathed in the latest perfume, anonymously suggest to the office manager that you adopt a “scent free” office (we have this policy and it works well).

Clutter Control
You are sure to feel overwhelmed if your surroundings are cluttered. To combat clutter, keep only your current project materials in view. You will feel more confident and be better able to concentrate.

Re-Arrange Stress
Consider rearranging the furniture so that you face away from the line of sight, if you work in an office cubicle. With your desk turned around you have more control over when people can catch your eye. Your co-workers may be less likely to needlessly interrupt you.

Ear Protection, Please
Bring earplugs to work, if your office is noisy, or try to escape to an empty conference room for a temporary “noise break.”

When de-stressing your surroundings, you can’t address all the stressors at one time. Carry a notebook with you and write down environmental sources of stress when you notice them. Just having that list will empower you. You might even enlist significant others in your life to help trouble shoot solutions with you.

Here are more stress-busting ideas to use to de-stress your environment:

  • In the office, take breaks to look out the window. Don’t have one nearby? Take a break once an hour, find a window and look outside. Focusing your eyes at a distant view will cause your eye muscle to relax. Looking at nature also has a proven calming effect.
  • At home and work, use calming pictures and muted pastel colors to soothe you.
  • Play soft music in the background — whatever you like. It’s quite calming and can act as “white noise” to neutralize toxic noises in your environment.
  • Personalize your office space with family photos and pictures of pets and favorite vacation spots. Look at them often.
  • Combat clutter. At home, if you haven’t used something within the past year consider tossing, selling or giving it away.
  • At home, impose a TV-time limit on yourself (and others). TVs in the living room are the ultimate noise pollution. Try moving the TV to a new location where you don’t see (and turn it on) so readily. Definitely get the TV out of the bedroom – watching TV in bed can interfere with your sleep patterns and cause you to develop sleep-related problems.
  • Decorate with soothing objects to look at — things that give you pleasure to see every day. These things are important to have in your living and working space.

Choose low-end ways to de-stress your surroundings if high-priced solutions are out of reach. If that $500 ergonomically correct chair isn’t realistic, what about a beautiful $10 pillow to sit up against? Or, a small stool to support your feet and ease your lower back? Do you have a comforting screen-saver? A beach view or the universe works nicely.

Be creative! See if you can make your surroundings a bit less stressful today.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Managing Stress: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/managing-stress

Stress: www.healthywomen.org/condition/stress

Anxiety and Depression Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/anxiety-and-depression

Mental Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/mental-health

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Simple Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

09/12/2011

from the Heart Health Center

 For many Americans working toward better heart health, an important first step is getting cholesterol to a healthy level. Diet and exercise are important steps to reduce high cholesterol. However, many people may find that with diet and exercise alone, cholesterol numbers are not where they should be. More than one hundred million Americans have high cholesterol, an important risk factor for heart disease. Though diet is very important, many people don’t realize that cholesterol is also produced in the body based upon heredity. Learning about your family health history is important—we recommend talking to your family about their health and creating a family health tree.

 Bringing this information to your next doctor visit will help you discuss your family history regarding cholesterol and other hereditary health concerns. Understanding Cholesterol What you eat affects your health, by raising or lowering the blood fats (cholesterol, triglycerides) that circulate through your body. Some foods increase your levels of total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Over the years, excess cholesterol and fat are deposited in the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to your heart. Eventually, these deposits can make your arteries narrower and less flexible, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Left unchecked, this buildup can lead to heart attack, stroke and death. Additionally, because of your family health history, your body may be genetically predisposed to make more cholesterol than you may need, in addition to the cholesterol from your food intake.

 Know your numbers!

Each one of us has a cholesterol goal level, based upon our individual risk factors and our risk for heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that everyone age 20 and over have a blood cholesterol test every five years to check their cholesterol levels.

 To learn more about your goal, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/chd for the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Live Healthier, Live Longer Web site.

 If your cholesterol levels are mildly to moderately higher than your goal, making a few dietary changes may be all you need to get back on track. According to current NCEP recommendations, people with coronary heart disease or others considered to be at high risk for coronary heart disease generally have an LDL cholesterol goal of less than 100 mg/dL. An LDL cholesterol goal of less than 70 mg/dL is a therapeutic option for people considered to be at very high risk. Work with your doctor to develop a plan to help reduce your LDL cholesterol number to goal. Here are guidelines for your cholesterol and triglyceride levels according to NCEP guidelines (new guidelines will be released in 2010): Total blood cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL Desirable 200 to 239 mg/dL Borderline high 240 mg/dL or above High LDL blood cholesterol levels less than 100 mg/dL Optimal 100 to 129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline high 160 to 189 mg/dL High 190 mg/dL and above Very High HDL blood cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL. Levels above 60 mg/dL are considered especially beneficial and can offset risk factors for heart disease, according to NHLBI. The higher the level, the healthier it is. Optimal 50 to 60 mg/dL for women; 40 to 50 mg/dL for men Average less than 50 mg/dL for women; less than 40 mg/dL for men. Below these levels is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Low Triglyceride levels less than 150 mg/dL Normal 150 to 199 mg/dL Borderline High 200 to 499 mg/dL High 500 mg/dL or higher Very high It is important to remember that these recommendations are for healthy individuals, not for women with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease. If you are at risk for heart disease, your target goals likely will be lower.

Fighting Back:  There are things that you can do now to help you gain a better understanding of your risk factors and perhaps lower your chances of high cholesterol and heart disease. For starters, it’s important that you eat right, get plenty of exercise, as recommended by your physician, and begin to understand your family health history. A healthy diet may help reduce total cholesterol. In general, you want to get “good” cholesterol higher and “bad” cholesterol lower. You can still enjoy a wide variety of foods by making healthful dietary choices and changes. If elevated cholesterol is part of your family genetics, or you have other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, you may need medication in addition to eating a heart-healthy diet. But whether you have normal cholesterol, high levels, or are currently taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, eating a healthy diet is important for everyone. Good fats/bad fats Fats can be good for you and your heart, when they’re the right kind and consumed in limited amounts; but even good fat is packed with calories. Those include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which decrease “bad” cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats include corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil. Saturated fats are the bad guys that may endanger your heart. They increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than anything else in your diet. Saturated fats, found mostly in animal products, are hard at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Think butter, shortening, fat on and in meat and poultry skin. Whole milk or two-percent milk products, half-and-half and cream all have a lot of saturated fat. Tropical oils—coconut, palm and palm kernel oils—also contain a lot of saturated fats. These oils are used in commercially baked crackers, cookies and non-dairy creamers. Foods containing saturated fats often also contain high amounts of cholesterol, which is only found in animal products. Trans fats are another culprit to watch out for. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol. Trans fats are found in foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils—stick margarine and some store-bought cookies and cakes, fast-food French fries, potato chips and other snacks. Read your food labels before purchasing. If there are .5 grams or less of trans fats in an item, the company can claim 0 trans fats on the label, so check the ingredient list for hydrogenated oils.

Heart-Healthy Choices

1. Switch your dairy Make the change from whole or two-percent milk to one-percent and then to skim, for drinking and in recipes. Or try almond milk or rice milk for a nondairy alternative. Use low-fat or nonfat sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and ice cream. 2. Choose lean cuts Beef tenderloin, sirloin, eye of round, ground beef with 10 percent or less fat and pork tenderloin are good choices. Other alternatives include white meat chicken or turkey. Remove the skin before cooking any poultry. 3. Cook with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated Oils These include olive, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, sesame and soybean oils. 4. Use more plant-based proteins instead of animal products These include beans and peas—black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils—and tofu or soy. Try veggie burgers (soy-based or grain-based) for an alternative to beef. 5. Boost your intake of foods that are high in soluble fiber This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps remove it from your body. Good sources include oatmeal, oatmeal bread, oat bran cereal, beans and peas, apples, bananas and citrus fruits. 6. Increase whole grains in your diet Choose bread with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice, whole-grain pastas and brown rice. 7. Use products containing plant sterol and stanol esters These components help keep your body from absorbing cholesterol. Consuming two to three grams a day decreases LDL cholesterol by 6 percent to 15 percent. Food products that have added cholesterol-lowering sterols and stanols include margarines, orange juice and yogurt. 8. Eat fatty fish twice a week Choose wild salmon over farm-raised to reduce possible toxin exposure. Pregnant or nursing women and children should limit tuna intake to 6 ounces a week and avoid swordfish, due to concerns about methyl mercury levels. 9. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat Most women should have 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables (without cheese sauce!) every day, according to new guidelines. Adding more of these to your diet fills you up, adds fiber and important nutrients and helps replace foods with saturated fats. For details on the new dietary recommendations, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov . 10. Keep an eye on dietary cholesterol Dietary cholesterol, such as is found in eggs, dairy products and some other foods, may raise cholesterol in the blood slightly, but newer studies find that consumption of dietary cholesterol is unlikely to substantially increase risk of coronary heart disease or stroke among healthy men and women. If you have other existing health conditions or risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease, you may need to monitor dietary cholesterol more closely. Egg yolks are filled with dietary cholesterol—213 milligrams in each. If you have elevated cholesterol, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends you keep your consumption under 200 milligrams per day. Egg whites are cholesterol-free, so use two for each whole egg in recipes, or use cholesterol-free egg substitute, which works well in baking and omelettes.

Heart-Healthy Tips for Eating Away from Home

 Here’s how to eat out and have a terrific meal without taking in too much fat and cholesterol: Preparation counts. Order your food fresh, sautéed, grilled/broiled, or poached. If sautéed or broiled, ask for it to be cooked with olive oil or without fat. Have sauces served on the side, so you add only what you need. Divide and conquer. Resist the pitfalls of inflated portions by eating only half of what you order. Take the rest home for an easy lunch or dinner the next day. Ask if you and your dining partner can share an entrée, with each of you ordering individual salads. Balance. Have the nachos if you really want them, but order a healthy entrée. Dessert isn’t a no-no—pick fresh fruit or sorbet. Enjoy the bread or rolls, just skip the butter and drizzle on olive oil. Sip slowly. Wine may raise HDL “good” cholesterol a bit, but there’s also evidence it can boost your triglyceride levels. Fast food stops are OK. Most fast-food restaurants now offer healthier items than a bacon double cheeseburger. Depending upon which chain you visit, you may find salads (ask for nonfat or olive oil dressings), grilled chicken, yogurt, baked potatoes and fresh fruit cups. Look for a heart-healthy symbol. Some restaurants put a heart or other sign next to healthful menu items. Choose from those.

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below. Heart Health Center: http://www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/heart-health Weight Management: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management Heart Disease: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/heart-disease Atherosclerosis: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/atherosclerosis Metabolic Syndrome: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/metabolic-syndrome Healthy Living: http://www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition © 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: http://www.HealthyWomen.org.


Colon Cancer Screening: Don’t Delay It

08/31/2011

“It was no big deal. I don’t understand why people stress over it.”

“The procedure itself was totally painless and relatively easy.”

 “It was a piece of cake.”

No, we didn’t pay these 50-something women to give us these comments about their first colonoscopy. All we did was ask them to tell us honestly what it was like. Given the negative perception about colonoscopy, their responses might catch a few readers by surprise. It should also make you think twice about skipping your colorectal screening test. Because the reality is that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer among women. Since it’s also one of the few cancers we can stop before it even gets started (by removing precancerous polyps found during screening colonoscopies), the idea of missing something so clearly helpful has more than a few experts scratching their proverbial heads. And you don’t have to get a colonoscopy.

Other tests are available, although they, too, are underutilized. The main reason women don’t get recommended colorectal cancer screenings? Their health care professional never suggests it. You’ll never find David Stein, MD, neglecting to mention colorectal screening to a patient. The colorectal surgeon at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia sees all too often what happens when people neglect their screenings. That’s why Dr. Stein is a big believer in colonoscopy. The statistics are amazing, he says. “About two percent of all colonoscopies pick up a cancer at the time of the test and about 15 percent pick up polyps,” he says. So 17 percent of patients undergoing a colonoscopy—about one in five—will have a finding that will save them from cancer in the first place or a bad outcome if they have cancer. “Colonoscopy probably detects true cancers about one centimeter or larger about 90 to 93 percent of the time,” he says. And it’s extremely safe.

The worst part of the colonoscopy, many agree, is the prep. For years, that meant drinking a large quantity of a nasty tasting liquid (even though it came in several flavors), designed to “empty you out.” Today, however, depending on the recommendation from your colonoscopist, you may only need to take a handful of pills. You’ll still spend a few hours in the bathroom, but at least you don’t have to choke down that awful liquid. Plus, two of the other three screening tests for colon cancer (flexible sigmoidoscopy and double contrast barium enema) also require a bowel prep and neither is as sensitive as the colonoscopy. And here’s the irony: If they show polyps or cancers, you’ll still need a colonoscopy to evaluate and/or remove them for evaluation.

The one test that doesn’t require prep is a fecal occult blood test. With this test, you collect stool samples, which are tested for breakdown products of blood in stool. You have to abstain from iron pills, red meat or broccoli before the test, and it still has a high rate of false positives. Plus, you have to do it three times. “Fecal occult blood tests probably pick up problems 50 to 60 percent of the time,” says Dr. Stein, which, of course, means it misses about half of all cancers. And if it’s positive, you still need a colonoscopy.

A newer stool test evaluates the stool for DNA from the most common mutations found in colon cancer and large polyps. That test, Dr. Stein says, is about 85 percent effective. However, it’s still considered experimental and most insurances do not cover it. One day, Dr. Stein predicts, colonoscopy will take a back seat to an improved DNA fecal occult blood test, or to a virtual colonoscopy, in which your colon is examined via a CT or MRI. Right now, however, you still have to do a colon prep for an MRI or CT, and they’re not covered by insurance either unless you cannot undergo colonoscopy for some reason. And you face the same issue with the virtual colonoscopy as you do with any other non-colonoscopy test: If it finds something suspicious, you still need a colonoscopy to remove the “something” for testing.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Colon cancer: www.healthywomen.org/condition/colon-cancer

Cancer: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/cancer

© 2011 HealthyWomen. All rights reserved. Reprinted withpermission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at:www.HealthyWomen.org.


Water Wisdom

08/14/2011

from the Healthy Living area

You’ve heard all the advice: Drink eight glasses of water a day. Stay properly hydrated while exercising. Sports drinks aren’t just for professional athletes.

Yet you’re still unsure whether you’re drinking the right amount for good health.
How much fluid should you really be taking in daily? Do you need to add extra when you’re physically active? And is too much water dangerous?

Everyone’s body needs water. We lose it by sweating, excretion, or simply not taking in enough through foods—like fruits and vegetables—and drinks. Mild dehydration (losing less than two percent of your body weight due to inadequate fluids) can cause health problems, including dizziness and headache.

To keep your body supplied with the fluid it needs, especially when exercising, follow these tips:

  • Get the basics. Most women need eight to nine cups of total fluids a day, including all beverages and the water in foods.
  • Increase according to the weather. High temperatures or humidity outside, heated indoor air and high altitudes all cause you to need more fluids.
  • Add when exercising. Drink one cup of fluids every 15 minutes during physical activity, advises Werner W.K. Hoeger, Ed.D., FACSM, professor of kinesiology and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Boise State University. He recommends sports drinks over water when exercising because they contain electrolytes—important to provide the minerals necessary for proper cellular metabolism—which is disrupted during physical exertion. Electrolyte replacement also helps maintain proper muscle contraction and cardiac function.
  • Add more for big events. If you’re going to be in a race or charity walk, make sure you drink enough to be well-hydrated the day before, Hoeger adds. Also, drink a glass of fluids an hour before the event.
  • Drinking for two? Pregnant and nursing women need additional fluids. Talk with your health care professional about what’s best for you.
  • Still thirsty? If drinking fluids doesn’t relieve your thirst, you may have a health condition such as diabetes. See your health care professional right away.
  • Too much of a good thing. In very rare cases—chiefly among marathon runners—drinking too much fluid leads to a life-threatening illness, hyponatremia. This occurs when sodium levels in the blood fall too low. It happens chiefly to athletes who have run for more than four hours and gained a lot of weight during the race from drinking.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

Diet and FitnessHealthCenter: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

© 2011 HealthyWomen. All rights reserved. Reprinted withpermission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at:http://www.HealthyWomen.org.