Monthly Archives: November 2013

Erase Wrinkles at Home? DIY Treatments That Work

Erase Wrinkles at Home? DIY Treatments That Work

November 28, 2013 | By News & Views

While no DIY line smoothers or skin-plumping creams will give you the same anti-aging results as an in-office treatment, “they can make a difference,” says New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD. Four worth the buy:

In-office cost: $75 to $200 per session
DIY option: DDF Revolve Professional 500X ($139; deep-cleans pores and speeds cell turnover.
Derm Verdict: At-home microdermabrasion tools give “excellent” results, Dr. Fusco says, in addition to office treatments “or as an alternative if cost is an issue.”

Chemical Peels
In-office cost: $300 to $1,000
DIY option: Exuviance antioxidant peel CA10 ($65; brightens skin and fades brown spots.
Derm verdict: “You get a big bang for your buck with an at-home peel,” says Dr. Fusco. “You’ll maintain smoother skin, lighten new dark spots and unclog pores.”

Wrinkle Relaxers
In-office cost: Around $400 per area for Botox
DIY option: Physicians Formula Expression Line Freeze ($22; at mass retailers) smooths crow’s-feet temporarily.
Derm verdict: “At-home line freezers are very, very distant cousins of injectables,” Dr. Fusco says. For best results with these, start at the first sight of wrinkles.

Dermal Fillers
In-office cost: $400 to $1,600 per area
DIY option: Bliss Firm, Baby, Firm Dual Action Lifting + Volumizing serum ($75; fills in fine lines.
Derm Verdict: “Topical formulas are terrific for a quick-fix, temporary result on the finest of lines,” Dr. Fusco says.

What to eat after a run?

Simple small balanced meal. Sort of thing you would normally eat but at a size your stomach won’t reject after intense activity.
I tend to go for oats, milk and nuts (muesli for the cheapskate) or rice, eggs and oil, light egg fried rice if wasn’t cold and less oil. Both hit the spot nicely, got treated to shortbread last week, that was very good.

If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re probably right – Henry Ford

Study Raises Concerns Over Safety of Implanted Heart Pump

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 27, 2013 (HealthDay News) — An implanted heart pump for people with weakened hearts, called the HeartMate II, appears to be plagued by dangerous clotting problems, a new study finds.

These issues often require arduous device replacements or even heart transplants.

Almost 50 percent of patients who got a clot and did not undergo device replacement or a heart transplant died, the new report noted. And some patients needed the device replaced more than once.

Exactly why this problem is occurring isn’t clear, but it is most likely a fault tied to mechanical changes made to the device itself, lead researcher Dr. Randall Starling, a professor of medicine and vice chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute said.

“This is a question we are going to answer,” he said. “We think that we saw a pattern when the change occurred. We think it’s something about the device that has changed.”

According to Starling’s team, the problem started cropping up in March of 2011 and continues to occur. In their study, his team tracked patients at three hospitals that implant patients with the devices, and found that 66 of 837 patients developed the clotting problem.

According to Starling, California-based Thoratec Corporation, the maker of the device, started seeing the problem when they changed the bearings in the pump. However, Thoratec has not been able to pinpoint this as the cause, Starling said.

Another possible explanation is the speed at which the pump is run. If it is set too low, clots may develop from the heat of the pump as the blood flows slowly through it, Starling theorized.

Initially, patient behavior was thought to be playing a role, Starling said. That’s because people who have the HeartMate II implanted must stick to a regimen of anti-clotting drugs such as warfarin or aspirin. However, Starling said that careful examination of Cleveland Clinic patients ruled out medication non-adherence as a contributing factor.

Starling has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has been considering the problem. “They are aware that we plan to study this further,” he said.

As for patients, they and their doctors should be aware of the clotting issues associated with the device, Starling said.

“Two years ago, when a patient had a HeartMate II and had persistent heart failure, clotting in the pump wasn’t on my list as something that was going on,” Starling explained. “Now when I see a patient with a device that doesn’t appear to be doing the job it was intended to do, I have a heightened awareness that there could be pump[-related] clotting.”

The report was published online Nov. 27 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients who receive a HeartMate II are those whose hearts are too weak to pump blood effectively, but who are not candidates for a heart transplant because of age or other medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease or cancer.

In addition, the device has been approved as a bridge to a transplant. So some patients waiting for a heart transplant get the device to keep them alive while they wait.

The HeartMate II is a ventricular assist device (VAD) that helps patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood. The device does not replace the pumping action of the heart, but rather assists it.

The device is implanted in a patient’s ventricle — the lower chamber of the heart. A part of the device that includes the battery, the power supply and a controller to monitor the device remains outside the body.

The VAD runs on battery power or can be plugged into a wall socket.

According to Dr. Charles Klodell, an associate professor of surgery and director of the LVAD program at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the pump itself costs about $120,000 and there are hospital and other services that add another $100,000 to the cost.

The procedure is covered by most insurance, including Medicare, he said.

Klodell wasn’t overly alarmed by the new findings. “These centers have had a little blip in their data,” he said.

According to Klodell, a national registry for these implants, called INTERMACS, hasn’t seen an increase in clotting with the device. In fact, they have seen a substantial decrease, he said.

“We have not experienced this in my center or in others whose data I am familiar with,” Klodell said. “I think it is something we all need to pay attention to, and we need to keep an eye on the data, but this doesn’t change my thought process on VADs or the HeartMate II,” he said.

In addition, Klodell noted that without the device these patients’ prognosis would be extremely “grim.”

For the study, Starling’s team collected data on 837 patients who received the device from 2004 through mid-2013.

They found 72 clots occurred in 66 patients. Beginning in March 2011, the number of patients experiencing clots three months after the device was implanted jumped from 2.2 percent to 8.4 percent by January of 2013.

Before March 2011, the average time clots appeared after implanting the device was 18.6 months. After that, clotting started appearing at 2.7 months after implantation, they noted.

Among patients who developed clots, 11 needed heart transplants, with one of these dying in the month after the transplant. Another 21 patients received new pumps.

Of those who did not receive a new pump or new heart, 48 percent died.

The device’s maker defended its safety profile.

“The HeartMate II is the most widely used and studied device of its kind; it has been implanted in more than 16,000 patients worldwide and has demonstrated excellent clinical outcomes,” according to a statement by Thoratec Corp.

“In fact, since the initial clinical trial, survival has improved, quality of life has remained consistently high, and complication rates in general have declined,” the statement said.

There are a number of factors that could contribute to clotting, the company said, including underlying patient condition, ongoing patient and device management practices, pump implantation technique, and device-related factors.

“We have performed extensive analysis on HeartMate II and have not identified any change that would cause the increase observed in the INTERMACS registry,” Thoratec said.

More information

For more information on ventricular assist devices, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

More Wealth May Lead to More Disappointment, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 27, 2013 (HealthDay News) — Money can buy happiness, but only up to an amount of about $36,000, a new study suggests.

The study looked at gross domestic product (GDP) per person. Although GDP is not a measure of personal income, it is often considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living.

As expected, the analysis of global data revealed that life satisfaction among people in poor countries rises as their nation’s wealth increases and they are able to meet their basic needs.

However, the researchers were surprised to find that for people in wealthy countries, life satisfaction peaks when their nation achieves a GDP of about $36,000 per person. Beyond that amount, there is a slight dip in life satisfaction.

This dip may occur because having more money creates higher ambitions, leading to disappointment when those goals are not fulfilled, according to the study published online Nov. 27 in the journal PLoS One.

“There is a sense of keeping up with the Joneses as people see wealth and opportunity all around them and aspire to having more,” explained study co-leader Eugenio Proto, an economist at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.

“But this aspiration gap — the difference between actual income and the income we would like — eats away at life satisfaction levels. In other words, what we aspire to becomes a moving target and one which moves away faster in the richest countries, causing the dip in happiness we see in our analysis,” Proto said in a university news release.

Compared to people in countries with a GDP of around $18,000 per person, people in countries with a GDP of below $6,700 per person were 12 percent less likely to report the highest level of life satisfaction, the researchers found.

But once countries cross the threshold of around $20,400 GDP per person, the boost in happiness created by greater wealth is less apparent. Between $20,400 GDP and $54,000 GDP (the highest per-person level), there is only about a 2 percent difference in the likelihood of claiming to have the highest level of life satisfaction, the study findings indicate.

More information

Mental Health America offers tips on how to live your life well.

“unsupported” sit ups?

  1. “unsupported” sit ups?

    I started exercising about 6 weeks ago, for general fitness reasons. I’m 50, male, and in reasonably good health (besides being a desk jockey and general couch potato for 25 years). I do the elliptical 5 days a week and other exercises 3 days a week. My question is about sit ups.

    I tried standard sit ups and couldn’t do them. Not because I couldn’t sit up, but because my back ached every time I did them, to the point I couldn’t stand up after. About two weeks in I noticed my back didn’t hurt at all when I leaned over backward with no support, so I tried the ottoman. That worked beautifully.

    I sit on the ottoman, pressed as close as it can get to the couch, with my feet hooked under the couch. I do a regular sit up, but when I’m flat, my back is hanging out in space, unsupported by anything. I definitely feel the pull in my lower abdomen. In the last month I’ve worked up to 50 sit ups, 3 times a week, but I was talking to a coworker and he said I was probably messing up my back. He couldn’t explain how or why, he was just adamant that doing sit ups this way would cause me problems. I googled every way I can think of and can’t find anything documented about my unusual method, pro or con.

    Has anyone else heard anything like this? It works for me, and my back honestly feels better than it has in years, but I don’t want to set myself up for some problem in the future.

  2. Sit-ups aren’t actually good for your back in the first place. Curling your spine while having the compressive load on it puts a lot of wear on your discs, and so you should be wary about doing them at all if you feel pain.

    I would actually consider the ottoman to be beneficial, though. Without the ground providing a surface for your back to rest on, you’re probably doing most (or at least more) of the movement at your hips now, instead of lifting each spine segment off the ground one at a time and curling your back.

    So if you continue to experience no pain with your sit-ups, then by all means keep going with them. If you start to have any discomfort with them at all, I would stop before it gets worse. There are other exercises that actually work the abs better, such as “stirring the pot” with a Swiss ball or walking your hands out while in a plank.

    Dip. Exercise and Wellness | BSc Athletic/Exercise Therapy Student | CSEP-CPT | BCRPA Group Fitness Instructor | Blog:

  3. Quote Originally Posted by Jrahien View Post

    So if you continue to experience no pain with your sit-ups, then by all means keep going with them. If you start to have any discomfort with them at all, I would stop before it gets worse.

    Good to hear. I started exercising after I installed 4000 lbs. of wood flooring in my house over a weekend. Lots of squatting down to install, standing up to get more, carrying 100 lb. boxes throughout the house. I had to call in to work for three days after I was done, because I was so sore I couldn’t move. I decided that being out of commission over a stupid home project was ridiculous, and I had to get in better shape. My doctor is the one who told me most of my back problems are caused by my stomach muscles being much weaker than my back muscles, and I had to do something to strengthen them. I’m not looking to get bodybuilder type muscles, I just want to be in better condition, generally.

    There are other exercises that actually work the abs better, such as “stirring the pot” with a Swiss ball or walking your hands out while in a plank.

    I think I know what a plank is, I do those on the same morning I do my sit ups, but I don’t know what a Swiss ball is, or what walking my hands out means. My version of a plank is laying on my side, then lifting myself up on my elbow and holding my body stiff. I hold it for (so far) 50 seconds, then relax. I’m up to three reps on each side of that before I can’t do it anymore. Am I calling it the wrong thing? Is a plank actually something else?

  4. What you described is a side-plank. The regular plank is simply doing the exact same thing, except on your front, either on your elbows or hands (push-up position). By “walk out with your hands”, I mean exactly that. While holding that position, walk your hands forward as far as possible and then back. (If you need to do it on your knees instead, then do so.)

    Swiss ball is just another name for the large exercise balls that all gyms have. Stirring the pot involves essentially a plank position with your elbows on the ball, and then moving your arms in a circle like you’re stirring.

    Dip. Exercise and Wellness | BSc Athletic/Exercise Therapy Student | CSEP-CPT | BCRPA Group Fitness Instructor | Blog:

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Fizzy Drugs May Pose a High-Salt Danger

Fizzy Drugs May Pose a High-Salt Danger

November 27, 2013 | By Health Editor


By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) — The high salt content of fizzy medications like Alka-Seltzer could pose a threat to people with heart disease, according to a new study.

The researchers want consumers to be aware of how much salt certain over-the-counter drugs contain. In some cases, the salt content of a day’s worth of tablets exceeds American Heart Association guidelines for daily salt intake — and that’s without taking a single bite of food.

“There is a significant risk in taking these effervescent, dispersible and soluble medications over the long term,” said lead researcher Dr. Jacob George, a senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant in clinical pharmacology at the University of Dundee, in Scotland.

Excessive salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, stroke and kidney disease. George said people with heart conditions or those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease should stay away from these fizzy medications.

Drug labels also should be required to include salt content just as food labels do, George said.

Fizzy medications are more common in the United Kingdom than in the United States. In Britain, many pain, headache and cold tablets come in this form, as do indigestion treatments and vitamin supplements, George said.

It’s the salt in these medications reacting with water that adds the fizz to the drugs.

Alka-Seltzer, an over-the-counter heartburn drug, is the most well-known medication in this category in the United States, said Ola Oyetayo, a pharmacist at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas.

One Alka-Seltzer tablet contains 445 milligrams of salt, according to Bayer, the drug’s maker. By taking the maximum recommended dose — two tablets four times a day — you’ll consume 3,560 mg. That’s more than double the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams of salt a day.

According to the AHA, if Americans limited salt intake to the recommended level, the nation would see a nearly 26 percent decrease in high blood pressure and savings of more than $26 billion in health care costs in just one year.

A high-salt diet may be the reason one in three Americans develop high blood pressure, according to the AHA.

Calls made to Bayer for comment on the study were not returned.

For the study, George’s team collected data on more than 1.2 million British patients. During an average of seven years of follow-up, more than 61,000 heart attacks, strokes or deaths occurred from heart disease among these patients.

The researchers found that patients taking at least two of these medications during the study period were at a 16 percent increased risk of a heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease compared with patients taking the salt-free versions of those same medications.

These findings remained unchanged even after taking into account factors such as weight, smoking, alcohol, history of chronic illnesses and use of some other medications, the researchers said.

More information

For more information on salt, visit the American Heart Association.