Thursday, February 14, 2008

Women of Spain Live the Longest

Women of Spain Live the Longest
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Spanish women are the longest living group of people in Europe, according to figures from the EU's Eurostat department. They live to an average age of 83.7, three years longer than women in the UK, whose average is 80.7 years. Men in Britain live to 76.2 years on average.
Spanish women are the longest living group of people in Europe, according to figures from the EU's Eurostat department.

They live to an average age of 83.7, three years longer than women in the UK, whose average is 80.7 years. Men in Britain live to 76.2 years on average.

A recent report by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer suggested that Spain's excellent health care system and a diet with a lot of olive oil and red wine were together responsible for the longevity of its people.

Nature magazine reported research from Harvard University last year which suggested that two elements found in red wine and olive oil, known as resveratrol and flavones, may be the key to a healthier, longer life.

Spanish men still come second to Swedish men in longevity, living 77.2 years compared with 77.9.

Spain's improving life-spans, high immigration and numbers of children born to immigrants helped give it the fastest rate of population growth in Europe, barring Cyprus, last year.

By Guardian Unlimited © Copyright Guardian Newspapers 2008.

A healthy heart: tips for adults and kids

A healthy heart
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With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's a great time to take a look at the state of your heart.

"Despite recent progress, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death and disability for both men and women in the United States," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, UCLA's Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science, professor of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center. "However, heart disease can be almost entirely prevented with a healthy lifestyle and excellent control of cardiovascular risk factors."

"The path to heart disease begins at an early age," said Dr. Thomas Klitzner, professor of pediatric cardiology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. "Obesity and high blood pressure are becoming an epidemic in children and young adults. By exercising regularly, eating well and not smoking, children can form heart-healthy habits that will help protect them from future heart attacks and strokes."

Adults: 10 Tips for a Healthy Heart

1. Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking markedly increases the risk of heart attacks and heart failure. Quitting smoking rapidly reduces your cardiovascular risk.
2. Exercise. New recommendations are to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes daily. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and keeps your heart strong and disease-free.
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and diabetes. A healthy diet and exercise program is the best way to maintain a normal weight.
4. Get your cholesterol levels checked. High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms until it is too late. The only way to know if you have a healthy cholesterol level is to get it checked. If you have not had your levels checked in the past year or two, get them checked now.
5. Maintain a healthy cholesterol level. The ideal level for your LDL ("bad" cholesterol) is less than 100. Certain individuals need to achieve even lower LDL cholesterol levels. Keeping your HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels up is also important. Know your lipid levels and talk to your physician about the best plan of action to keep your cholesterol levels ideal.
6. Get your blood pressure checked. Many patients with hypertension are not aware that they have this condition. There are very well-tolerated and effective treatments for high blood pressure.
7. Maintain a normal blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. Your systolic blood pressure should be below 140 and your diastolic blood pressure below 90. Certain individuals need to achieve even tighter control of their blood pressure.
8. Take your medications as recommended by your physician. Many patients stop taking their prescribed medications without discussing this with their physicians. Studies show that individuals who stop their cardiovascular medications are at much higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and reduced survival, compared with those who adhere to their medical regimen.
9. Take omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that getting one gram a day of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, or taking supplements such as fish oil capsules, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
10. See your doctor. Regular medical follow-up is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy and avoid problems down the road.

Children and Adolescents: Seven Tips for a Healthy Heart

1. Watch no more than one hour of television a day. (This includes non-schoolwork-related computer activities, video games and Game Boy-type activities.)
2. Make a point of getting outside and moving around for at least 30 minutes every day.
3. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
4. Avoid fast food and fried food, and eat in moderation.
5. Don't smoke.
6. See your pediatrician for all regularly scheduled visits.
7. Report unusual feelings, such as a racing heart or feeling faint, to an adult.

Human auditory neurons more sensitive

Human neurons system
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The human ear is exquisitely tuned to discern different sound frequencies, whether such tones are high or low, near or far. But the ability of our ears pales in comparison to the remarkable knack of single neurons in our brains to distinguish between the very subtlest of frequency differences.

Reporting in the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Nature, Dr. Itzhak Fried, professor of neurosurgery and director of the UCLA Epilepsy Surgery Program, and colleagues from Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, show that in humans, a single auditory neuron in the brain exhibits an amazing selectivity to a very narrow sound-frequency range, roughly down to a tenth of an octave.
In fact, the ability of such neurons to detect the slightest of differences in sound frequency far surpasses that of the human auditory nerve, which carries information from the hair cells of the inner ear to the brain's auditory cortex — by as much as 30 times greater sensitivity. Indeed, such frequency tuning in the human auditory cortex is substantially superior to that typically found in the cortex of nonhuman mammals, with the exception of bats.

It is a paradox, the researchers note, that even the auditory neurons of musically untrained people can detect very small differences in frequency much better than their peripheral auditory nerve. With other peripheral nerves, such as those in the skin, the human ability to detect differences between two points — say from the prick of a needle — is limited by the receptors in the skin; the neurons associated with those peripheral nerves display no greater sensitivity. With hearing, however, the sensitivity of the neuron actually exceeds that of the peripheral nerve.

The researchers, including senior author Israel Nelken and first author Yael Bitterman from Hebrew University, determined how neurons in the human auditory cortex responded to various sounds by taking recordings of brain activity from four consenting clinical patients at UCLA Medical Center. These patients had intractable epilepsy and were being monitored with intracranial depth electrodes to identify the focal point of their seizures for potential surgical treatment.

Using clinical criteria, electrodes were implanted bilaterally at various brain sites that were suspected to be involved in the seizures, including the auditory cortex. The recording of brain activity was carried out while patients listened to artificial random chords at different tones per octave and to segments from the film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.'' Thus, the sounds the patients heard were both artificial (the random chords) and more natural (the voices and noise from the movie soundtrack).

The results surprised the researchers. A single auditory neuron from humans showed an amazing ability to distinguish between very subtle frequency differences, down to a tenth of an octave. This, compared to a sensitivity of about one octave in the cat, about a third of an octave in rats and a half to a full octave in the macaque.

"This is remarkable selectivity," said Fried, who is also co-director of UCLA's Seizure Disorder Center. "It is indeed a mystery why such resolution in humans came to be. Why did we develop this? Such selectivity is not needed for speech comprehension, but it may have a role in musical skill. The 3 percent frequency differences that can be detected by single neurons may explain the fact that even musically untrained people can detect such frequency differences.

"There is also evidence that frequency discrimination in humans correlates with various cognitive skills, including working memory and the capability to learn, but more research is needed to clarify this puzzle," he said.

This study, Fried noted, is the latest example of the power of neurobiological research that uses data drawn directly from inside a living human brain at the single-neuron level. Previous studies from Fried's lab have identified single cells in the human hippocampus specific to place in human navigation, and single cells that can translate varied visual images of the same item — such as the identity of an individual — into a single concept that is instantly and consistently recognizable.

The UCLA Division of Neurosurgery has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for 17 consecutive years as one of the top 10 neurosurgery programs in the nation. Faculty members are committed to providing the finest and most comprehensive patient care through innovative clinical programs in minimally invasive brain and spinal surgery, neuroendoscopy, neuro-oncology for both adult and pediatric brain tumors, cerebrovascular surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery for brain and spinal disorders, surgery for movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy surgery.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sports medicine in the United States

Sports medicine in the United States
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The Sports Medicine specialist, either an Orthopedist or a Primary-care Sports Medicine specialist, is usually the leader of the sports medicine team, which also includes physician and surgeon specialists, physiologists, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel, and, of course, the athlete.

Doctors wishing to specialize start with a primary residency program in family practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. Then, they generally obtain one to two years of additional training through accredited fellowship (subspecialty) programs in sports medicine. Physicians who are board certified in one of the preceding displines are then eligible to take a subspecialty qualification examination in sports medicine. Additional forums, which add to the expertise of a Sports Medicine Specialist, include continuing education in sports medicine, and membership and participation in sports medicine societies.

Sports medicine has been a recognized subspecialty of the American Board of Medical Specialties since 1989. Currently there are more than 70 sports medicine fellowships and approximately one thousand certified Sports Medicine Specialists in the United States.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winning the best medicine for atletico

Winning the best medicine for atletico
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Aguirre - recent slump.

Atletico Madrid coach Javier Aguirre admits his side's 2-0 victory over fellow high-flyers Racing Santander was just what the doctor ordered following a dismal recent run of form.

Atletico had picked up just one point from their previous three league games and been knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the last few weeks, but Diego Forlan's brace saw the Rojiblancos get back on track against sixth-placed Racing.

"We needed a win and we got it," said Aguirre.

"It was very important to rediscover our self-esteem, and not become disillusioned. In the last few games the ball has not gone in for us, but it did at last here. They (Racing) were tough opponents, who had only lost once at home."

Aguirre also praised Forlan for his double strike - the Uruguayan's first goals since the opening league game of 2008 against Deportivo La Coruna.

"He needed the goals. We all know that goalscorers go through barren spells, but sooner or later they break them. I hope that this will spark a positive run, not only for him, but for all the players in the team," Aguirre added.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The best medicine

laughing is best medicine
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The overwhelming demands of caregiving frequently exhaust the caregiver physically, mentally, and spiritually. Often, you get so caught up in ministering to another, you forget to eat, sleep, exercise—and laugh. Yes, laugh!

“How can I laugh at a time like this?” many ask. “Is it okay?”

Not only is it okay, it’s imperative.

Laughing Is Feel-Good Medicine

Laughing is one of the most effective, yet forgotten, coping skills. Medical studies prove laughter lowers blood pressure, increases lung and heart performances, decreases stress, exercises abdominal and facial muscles, boosts the immune system, and even increases the production of tumor- and virus-killing cells. Besides all that, it’s free, has no side effects, and feels good!

Laughter, like other rhythmic actions, releases endorphins—our bodies’ “feel-good medicines”—in our brains. Think about the last time you enjoyed a hearty belly laugh. Remember, when you finally caught your breath, how good you felt? How much lighter your chest was? How there seemed to be, literally, a weight lifted from your shoulders?

Laughter Has Helped Many Caregivers

I’ve been privileged to read thousands of true stories from caregivers. Time and time again they shared how laughter helped them through their toughest times.

A loving daughter sat for months at the bedside of her ailing father who was confused and rarely spoke. Still, she chatted away, trying to communicate with him. One day she ran out of things to say, so began singing. Unfortunately, she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but crooned, "I love you. You love me. We're a great big family."

Her daddy opened his eyes and spoke for the first time in days. "I love you too, honey," he said. "But you don't have to sing about it."

Laughter, she wrote, helped her reclaim some joy in what seemed to be a hopeless situation.

Laughing to Connect

Obviously, we should never laugh at another person, yet laughing with them can be a blessing to both. Many infirmed people insist that just hearing laughter boosts their spirits and happy heart rate. When we laugh at someone else’s silly antics, they often laugh along with us, offering them too, all the healthy benefits mentioned above.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to find the humor in a situation. Yet to endure the daily challenges, that’s exactly what caregivers must seek.

Terry, a grown granddaughter, went home to help her mother care for Grandma. Heartbroken by her mental deterioration, she attempted to add some joy to Grandma’s life by taking her to a buffet restaurant. There, the only food Grandma recognized and selected was red Jell-O. Even so, the two were enjoying a pleasant lunch when suddenly Grandma jerked Terry under the table yelling, “Indians! We’ve gotta get out of here!” Heading for “cover,” Grandma crawled on her hands and knees across the restaurant floor with her purse and skirt — and granddaughter on all fours—trailing behind her.

When they arrived at the front door the manager looked down and asked in disbelief, “Is everything all right ladies?” Grandma stood, brushed herself off and said, “Yes, now that you’re here Marshall Dillon.” By now her granddaughter was laughing so hard she couldn’t stand up! Grandma tugged her to her feet, brushed her off and pulled her toward the door saying, “Come on, Terry, we’ve got to get out of here—you’re embarrassing me!”

Instead of being sad and mortified, Terry embraced the moment and laughed—then Grandma laughed—and their joy connected them.

Finding the Funnies

If there are too few laughing occasions during your days, create them. (Not necessarily by crawling on all fours in public!) As you care for someone, think back to what used to make them laugh. And what used to make you laugh? Recall the favorite I Love Lucy episodes, knock-knock jokes, or funny family escapades and reintroduce them into your lives.

Remember, laugher soothes the soul and weary mind. It is, indeed, the best medicine.