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Harvard Health Publishing

You’ve planned and saved, so now ...

Make life’s next chapter all you want it to be!

Discover smart strategies for rewarding and fulfilling independent living, with good health, security, and peace-of-mind.

Aging in Place

In Aging in Place you’ll discover:

What does it mean to age in place?
Planning for your future
Stay healthy to stay independent
Build social connections
SPECIAL SECTION: Adapting your home
Improving home safety
Getting help at home
Read More

Dear Reader,

During all those working years, you earned. Now you can spend ... spend more time doing what you like ... more time with children and grandchildren ... more time with — and for — one another.

Harvard Medical School's Special Health Report, Aging in Place is a valuable, comprehensive planning guide for living safely, comfortably and independently ... and enjoying all you’ve been looking forward to.

All the right moves — even if you stay just where you are!

Whether you’re downsizing, or want to remain in your present house, Aging in Place offers uncomplicated guidance for keeping your home in step with your changing and anticipated needs.

You’ll find over 40 ways to give your house more “staying” power. From boosting illumination to lowering thresholds, the guide is packed with ideas that are practical, sensible, and affordable.

You’ll be ready for the decisions that make a difference.

Do I take Social Security now? What is Medicare Part C? How does a living will differ from a POLST? Is long-term care insurance worth it? Am I missing out on any free services? The Special Health Report will tell you.

With Aging in Place you will understand things that are too often overlooked. Most importantly, you will gain reassuring certainty that you are making the best choices for yourself or a loved one.

You’ll find dozens of tools, tips, and tricks to keep you safe and secure.

From a 32-point home safety checklist to a warning of 18 medicines that can increase your risk of a fall, when it comes to safety, Aging in Place covers all the bases. You’ll find how to evaluate caregivers ... increase home security ... and select the best home monitoring and medical alert devices.

Plus you’ll get important “stay-well” guidance direct from Harvard’s doctors.

You know that your wellness can determine your independence. In Aging in Place you’ll learn strategies for warding off age-related illnesses. You’ll be briefed on important screenings, and get guidance for healthy eating, building stronger bones and muscles, and remaining sharp and active.

You’ve earned it. Now enjoy it! Order your copy of Aging in Place now.

 

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5 key questions to help you develop a caregiving plan

caregiving plan

If you're taking on the role of caregiver for the first time, you probably have many questions: What exactly will it entail? Where can you find help? How do you even start?

When faced with this kind of uncertainty, the best thing you can do for your loved one — and yourself — is to make a caregiving plan. Of course, your loved one's needs may change over time, and you can never plan for every last detail or eventuality. But if you begin by covering the basics, you will have an important foundation to build on later.

Get your copy of Caregiver’s Handbook: A guide to caring for the ill, elderly, disabled, and yourself
 
Caregiver’s Handbook: A guide to caring for the ill, elderly, disabled, and yourself
Close to 66 million informal or family caregivers offer assistance of all sorts to adults in America. Their efforts are vital to the lives of people struggling with illness, disability, or the changes that often accompany aging. This Special Health Report, Caregiver's Handbook: A guide to caring for the ill, elderly, or disabled—and yourself, will assist you in meeting the needs of the person you care for while attending to your own. It includes financial, legal, and medical information that’s vital to caregivers, as well as a special section devoted to caring for yourself as you navigate caregiving challenges.

Read More

Your initial caregiving plan will largely depend on your answers to these five key questions:

  • For whom are you caring — an aging parent, an ill partner or friend, or a disabled family member?
  • What precipitated the need for care?
  • Is the situation time-limited (e.g., for someone who needs care while healing from surgery or an injury) or likely to continue indefinitely?
  • What care or services will the person need?
  • Aside from basic needs, what does your loved one want? For example, elderly parents may want to continue living independently at home rather than move in with you or to a nursing home. How can you help the person meet these goals?

As you begin to develop your plan, think about your own caregiving goals, too. The circumstances for each person and his or her needs will of course vary, but you can definitely make it a goal to treat your loved one with compassion and honor his or her dignity at all times.

Next, have an open, honest conversation with your care recipient about what both of you expect and determine just what issues need to be addressed.

However, an initial plan is just that — a first step. Change is one of the few certainties of caregiving, so it is important to re-evaluate your situation early and often, and to make changes whenever necessary. If possible, it can help to keep a step or two ahead by asking your loved one's doctors and other experts for their assessment of how the situation might change in another few weeks, months, or years.

For more advice on how to be a caregiver for a loved one, buy Caregiver's Handbook, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

 

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Tue, Apr 7 at 6:17 PM
 
 
Harvard Health Publishing

Put back pain behind you — for good!

Learn the best strategies to speed relief, prevent recurrence, and keep your back fit and pain-free!

Learn anytime, anywhere!
You can access your Back Pain: Finding Solutions for Your Aching Back course whenever it’s convenient for you from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Easy login and simple-to-navigate screens make this online course perfect for adults of all ages.

Click Here to Learn More

The end. When it comes to back pain, there’s no better place to start. When back pain occurs, you want it to end. You want to get on with all the things you need to do, want to do, and love to do.

That’s where this new online course will take you. To the end of your back pain, to putting the brakes on the aches, to hastening relief, and helping you to a future secure and free from back pain.

This interactive course will show you how to quell and conquer your back pain safely and successfully. You’ll discover strategies for conditions ranging from bulging discs to compression fractures ...from strains and sprains to spondylitis and spinal stenosis.

You’ll understand the risk factors and the keys to an accurate diagnosis. You’ll learn treatment strategies, including the latest therapeutic and surgical options. And you’ll find proven tips and techniques for a stronger back.

Back Pain: Finding Solutions For Your Aching Back is loaded with engaging videos, helpful downloadable charts, and challenging quizzes. You’ll learn the smartest steps to resolve pain. You’ll be introduced to the most effective treatments for chronic conditions. And you’ll master the best exercises for resilient back health.

It’s the course you can count on to take you in the right direction!

In this course, you’ll find...

  • two common triggers for sciatica that you can easily avoid

  • the three “magic words” that can save you from an unneeded imaging test

  • the disc surgery technique that’s the gold standard for pain relief

  • the best sleep position (and best mattress) for your back

  • two surprising self-care steps that can dramatically speed healing

  • four “red flag” conditions that signal get to a doctor — fast!

  • a complementary therapy that’s proving as effective as medications

  • And more!

This empowering new course will help you set your course for ending your back pain and keeping it away!

You’ll discover the steps and treatments that bring effective and enduring relief...

Click Here to Learn More

  • the minimally-invasive spinal stenosis option that reduces the costs and risks of spinal fusion

  • 6 safe medications that work in minutes and will quell your pain for hours

  • 9 back-strengthening exercises to prevent flare-ups from muscle-related pain

  • five integrative therapies that can speed recovery from acute back pain

  • an outpatient procedure for compression fractures that takes less than an hour!

  • 7 back-healthy habits you can start right now!

The good news is that you don’t have to continue to face back pain. You can wake without the aches and enjoy each day to the fullest and you can do it with this remarkable new online learning course.

You can be free from the aches and agony of back pain with Harvard Health Publishing’s Back Pain: Finding Solutions for your Aching Back!

Look. Listen. AND LEARN!

Back Pain is a dynamic, interactive, audio visual course packed with content and designed for convenience. You choose the time and you set the pace. The course lets you:

 

 

  • Get information you can use from a source you can trust

  • Enjoy guidance from America’s top orthopaedic experts when and where it’s most convenient for you

  • Watch, pause, and watch again as often as you want

  • Share the learning experience with your spouse and loved ones

  • Download charts, quizzes, video presentations, and more!

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Enjoy fitness others will envy — with workouts you can do anytime, anywhere!

 

You can access Starting To Exercise on your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer. With easy log-in and simple-to-navigate screens, this online course is designed for adults of all ages.

In the online course, STARTING TO EXERCISE, today’s leading fitness instructors show you workouts that work...the exercises that will help you enjoy a healthier, more vigorous, and longer life!

It’s a fact: regular, vigorous exercise can add more than three years to your life! Exercise lessens your risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of certain cancers, strengthens bones, protects joints, and keeps your mind sharp.

This first-of-its-kind course from Harvard Health Publishing brings you exercises that reward your time and effort. You’ll master the smartest choices in aerobics and strength training. You’ll learn routines for maintaining balance and increasing flexibility. This comprehensive program is designed to give you results you’ll see — and feel.

MORE THAN 40 EXERCISES ARE ILLUSTRATED AND DEMONSTRATED!

Our instructors are at your command! Starting to Exercise makes it easy to search for a specific exercise, swipe to go back or move to the next routine; you can pause a video, or go big-screen on your iPad and share with a workout partner.

Starting To Exercise is packed with workouts to fit your schedule...and exercises you’ll not only stick with...but look forward to! It includes...

  • Cardio workouts — a dozen exercises — from curls to kicks and more for boosting heart fitness

  • Strength-training — the right moves to build muscles and keep your bones strong

  • The balance workout — exercises to help you avoid a disabling fall and stay steady on your feet

  • Flexibility stretches — exercises to keep you limber for daily activities or your favorite sport

Plus 7 Bonus Videos!
Including instructive tips and techniques from top fitness experts!

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HHP Shield

HARVARD HEALTH EXPERTS REVEAL THE SIMPLE STEPS TO HELP YOU

Halt bone-thinning osteoporosis, strengthen your bones, and protect your mobility

Healthy Women
Osteoporosis

Your must-know UPDATE to help keep your bones strong:

What causes osteoporosis
Risk factors you can control
The consequences of osteoporosis
Detecting osteoporosis
Developing a plan of action
Bone-protecting foods and supplements
Exercises for bone strength and mobility
Choosing a bone-strengthening medication
How to cope with fractures
And more from the experts at Harvard Medical School, America’s #1 medical school for research as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
Read More

Dear Reader,

Sadly, many people have no idea that they have been losing bone mass for years until — suddenly and without warning — a twist, a bend, or an unexpected jolt or fall leads to a painful fracture in the hip, spine or wrist.

You probably know someone who has experienced a bone fracture and you know how drastically it can turn your life upside down.

A hip fracture, for example, can severely limit mobility, making it difficult to drive, cook or even get out of bed. A spinal fracture — the most common type of fracture — can result in ongoing pain, stooped posture and even digestive problems.

The older we get, the more likely we are to have our bones weakened by osteoporosis (literally “porous bone”) — making us more susceptible to potentially devastating fractures.

The good news is that osteoporosis is not inevitable!

And it’s treatable. That’s why the health experts at Harvard Medical School have published Osteoporosis: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment, a Special Health Report filled with evidence-based practical steps to help you strengthen your bones and prevent life-altering fractures. For example:

Simple bone-protecting exercises

You may know that exercise can help strengthen your bones and improve your coordination and balance, but you may not know how quick and EASY these exercises can be! Your Special Report reveals the exercises that work best to prevent and treat osteoporosis — including 10 simple, clearly-illustrated exercises you can do in your living room.

Smart bone-building nutrition tips

Do you know that too much supplemental calcium might be dangerous — and what dosage experts recommend? The simple food swaps that may have a significant bone-protecting impact? The surprising vitamin that research has proven is “instrumental in bone formation?” Or the little-known nutritional dangers to your bone health? Find out all this and more in your Harvard Special Report!

Which bone-strengthening medication is best for you

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or its less serious cousin osteopenia, your doctor will likely prescribe a medication to curb bone loss. But before you say “yes”, get the facts you need to help you decide between bisphosphonates like Fosamax…monoclonal antibodies like Prolia…hormones — a variety of estrogen products…and other options.

PLUS: You’ll get a fascinating close-up look at your bone’s structure — how it grows and heals itself when injured. Discover the osteoporosis risk factors and why it’s not just a “woman’s disease.” Find out how to diagnose osteoporosis and develop your action plan to fight back. See how to recover well from hip fracture and cope with the pain of a vertebral fracture — including two surgical options. And more!

If you want to help guard yourself from potentially devastating bone fractures and protect your mobility and independence as you grow older, get the facts you need in Osteoporosis: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment. Order now and save 30% off our regular price!

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Strategies to promote better sleep in these uncertain times

POSTED MARCH 27, 2020, 2:30 PM
Suzanne Bertisch, MD, MPH, Contributor

These are unprecedented times. Given the real and tangible threat of the coronavirus pandemic on personal, community, and societal levels, it is normal to experience anxiety and sleep problems. Sleep is a reversible state marked by a loss of consciousness to our surroundings, and as members of the animal kingdom, our brains have evolved to respond to dangers by increasing vigilance and attention — in other words, our brains are protecting us, and by doing so it’s harder for us to ignore our surroundings.

Learn more »

Get your copy of Improving Sleep
 
Improving Sleep

When you wake up in the morning, are you refreshed and ready to go, or groggy and grumpy? For many people, the second scenario is all too common. Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night's rest describes the latest in sleep research, including information about the numerous health conditions and medications that can interfere with normal sleep, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat sleep disorders. Most importantly, you’ll learn what you can do to get the sleep you need for optimal health, safety, and well-being.

 

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Harvard Health Publishing

Discover the steps and secrets to
lower blood pressure!

You can live free from the dangers of hypertension! Enjoy greater cardiovascular fitness — and better health — starting now!

Learn anytime, anywhere!
You can access your Controlling Your Blood Pressure course whenever it’s convenient for you from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Easy login and simple-to-navigate screens make this online course perfect for adults of all ages.

Click Here to Learn More

The latest guidelines have made the importance of maintaining lower blood pressure numbers abundantly clear. Indeed, now nearly half of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure, with double the risk of heart attacks and strokes as well as increased risk of kidney failure, loss of eyesight, and even Alzheimer’s. You don’t have to be in that group. You can effectively and successfully lower your blood pressure.

This interactive online course will show you how. You’ll discover the strategies, the medications, and simple lifestyle changes that will make a truly significant and measurable difference.

You will understand hypertension’s causes and its effects. You’ll learn tips and techniques for reducing your blood pressure from top Harvard doctors. You’ll find a course packed with engaging videos, helpful downloadable charts, and interactive quizzes.

You’ll discover an extraordinary diet that can lower systolic blood pressure 11 points in 8 weeks! You’ll find exercises that reward your effort...ways to ease stress and improve sleep...and even how to insure the most accurate blood pressure reading.

The up-to-the-minute guidance you need to bring your blood pressure numbers down!

In this course, you’ll find...

  • an eating plan that reduces blood pressure as effectively as most medications!

  • 3 cures for “getting-out-of-bed” dizziness

  • 6 keys for assuring an accurate blood pressure reading

  • the surprising cause of “part-time” hypertension — and how to end it for good!

  • how to reduce stress in three minutes — or even one!

  • great “no-sweat” exercises for lowering blood pressure

  • And more!

Click Here to Learn More

This dynamic course incorporates the best strategies for lowering your blood pressure and boosting your cardiovascular health.

You’ll discover the steps that can take you further including...

  • the nutritionists’ discovery that can lower blood pressure 16 points — and boost good cholesterol too

  • the workout that reduces blood pressure and combats brain aging

  • 10 sodium-free options to shake the salt habit

  • how to find the most helpful Smartphone health apps

  • 16 effective medications — with fewer side effects

  • how to detect and defeat dangerous masked hypertension

The good news is that what’s gone up can come down. You can get your numbers in line... and you can do it with this remarkable online learning course.

Be on your way to better and lasting health with Harvard Health Publishing’s Controlling Your Blood Pressure. Don’t miss out.

You’ll learn at home — and feel at home!

With Harvard Health Publishing’s Controlling Your Blood Pressure online course, you choose the time and you set the pace. The course lets you:

  • Get information you can use from a source you can trust

  • Learn from America’s leading experts when and where it’s most convenient for you

  • Watch, pause, and watch again as often as you want

  • Share the learning experience with your spouse and loved ones

  • Includes downloadable charts, quizzes, progress trackers, worksheets, and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 heart-healthy strategies to lower your cholesterol effectively and safely!

“Take-charge” techniques that are transforming cholesterol control and giving you renewed protection from a heart attack or stroke

Managing Your Cholesterol

The Managing Your Cholesterol Special Health Report includes:

3 easy ways to improve the accuracy of your cholesterol test
The type of cholesterol that is actually good for your arteries
Why some people may be able to take lower doses of a cholesterol-lowering statin
9 heart disease risk factors you can change
Plus, you get a Special Bonus Section: Lifestyle changes to improve your lipid levels
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

If you’ve ever fought high, or even elevated, cholesterol, please send for this new report from Harvard Medical School today. It will show you how you can reduce harmful cholesterol — up to 50%—and do it with confidence and success!

The report is yours risk-free — and here’s the reason why.

Just a 10% drop in LDL cholesterol can mean a 20-30% drop in your risk of a heart attack. We want you to enjoy lower risk when it comes to your heart, so there’s no risk when it comes to this offer!

There are more ways than ever to have less!

Through specific lifestyle changes and with an emerging roster of drug therapies, you can significantly lower LDL levels, dramatically reduce harmful triglycerides, and actually reverse atherosclerosis.

In this just-published report, you will learn sensible, safe, and studied strategies that will help you meet the latest guidelines for cholesterol management and reduced cardiovascular risk.

The answers you need for the cholesterol numbers you want!

Why is it so important to lower cholesterol? What is your risk of a heart attack? How can you assure that your cholesterol numbers are accurate? Managing Your Cholesterol will tell you. You’ll learn about two important protective factors you can ramp up right now...why reduced cholesterol is good for your brain as well as your heart...and how to determine — in 30 seconds — if you truly need a statin.

You’ll discover the smart, powerful, and natural steps that work!

You’ll be introduced to LDL-lowering diets that don’t demand sacrifice. You’ll find tips (and tricks) for better cholesterol balance. You’ll read about three tasty ways to lower triglycerides. Plus, the Report will brief you on four cholesterol-corraling superfoods...a surprising HDL-boosting beverage ...and the one exercise regimen that can lower the proportion of the most dangerous LDL particles.

You’ll find the wisest and safest choices in medications — and more!

You’ll get candid assessments of 30 popular cholesterol-reducing drugs (including low-cost generics.) You’ll learn how to maximize the effectiveness of your statin. You will be introduced to exciting new alternatives, including an injection that shrinks the risk of heart attacks...a medication that stops cholesterol from reaching the bloodstream...and a slick prescription oil that cuts triglycerides in half!

What’s gone up, can come down! Managing Your Cholesterol will show you how. Remember, this empowering Special Report is yours 100% risk-free! Don’t wait. Order today!

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4 ways to turn good posture into less back pain

back pain posture

Most of us get back pain at some point in our lives. It may be due to a sports-related injury, an accident, or a congenital condition such as scoliosis. But most of the time, upper or lower back pain develops during the course of day-to-day life. Repetitive activities at work or home, such as sitting at a computer or lifting and carrying, may produce tension and muscle tightness that result in a backache. One solution to preventing back pain is to improve posture.

In addition to improving your posture, general physical fitness and a healthy weight are important are important, too. But the surprisingly simple act of paying attention to improving your posture can go a long way.

Get your copy of Back Pain: Finding solutions for your aching back
 
Back Pain: Finding solutions for your aching back
Treatment of back pain has undergone a recent sea change. Experts now appreciate the central role of exercise to build muscles that support the back. This Special Health Report, Back Pain: Finding solutions for your aching back, helps you understand why back pain occurs and which treatments are most likely to help. This report describes the different types of back problems and the tailored treatments that are more likely to help specific conditions.

Read More

The basics of posture

Posture is the way you hold your body while standing, sitting, or performing tasks like lifting, bending, pulling, or reaching. If your posture is good, the bones of the spine—the vertebrae— are correctly aligned.

4 steps toward improving your posture

You can improve your posture—and head off back pain—by practicing some imagery and a few easy exercises.

  • Imagery. Think of a straight line passing through your body from ceiling to floor (your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be even and line up vertically). Now imagine that a strong cord attached to the top of your head is pulling you upward, making you taller. Try to hold your pelvis level — don't allow the lower back to sway — and resist the urge to stand on tiptoe. Instead, think of stretching your head toward the ceiling, increasing the space between your rib cage and pelvis. Picture yourself as a ballerina or ice skater rather than a soldier at attention.
  • Shoulder blade squeeze. Sit up straight in a chair with your hands resting on your thighs. Keep your shoulders down and your chin level. Slowly draw your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for a count of five; relax. Repeat three or four times.
  • Upper-body stretch. Stand facing a corner with your arms raised, hands flat against the walls, elbows at shoulder height. Place one foot ahead of the other. Bending your forward knee, exhale as you lean your body toward the corner. Keep your back straight and your chest and head up. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Relax.
  • Arm-across-chest stretch. Raise your right arm to shoulder level in front of you and bend the arm at the elbow, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor. Grasp the right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it across your chest so that you feel a stretch in the upper arm and shoulder on the right side. Hold for 20 seconds; relax both arms. Repeat to the other side. Repeat three times on each side.

Practice these imagery and posture exercises throughout the day. You might try to find a good trigger to help you remember, such as doing one or more of them when you get up from your desk, or right before scheduled breaks and lunch. Soon it will become a habit.

For more on healing an aching back, review Back Pain, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: Andreypopov/Getty Images

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Create a plan to relieve your back pain

If you suffer from back pain, you've probably tried one or two ways to ease it. The range of options — from doing nothing at all to having surgery — is quite large. But the abundance of choices also presents a challenge. How do you know which therapy is right for you?

Before you decide on a course of treatment, keep these three things in mind.

  1. Identifying the type of back disorder you suffer from is the first — and most important — step in finding how best to treat it. Although options abound, not all are appropriate for your specific back problem.
  2. Be an active participant in your care. Learn as much as you can about the risks and benefits of the treatments you are considering. Be clear on your treatment goals. Perhaps you don't intend to hike up a mountain, but you do want to go on that long-awaited trip and enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower.
  3. Don't be afraid to question advice. If a health professional recommends an invasive, experimental, or expensive treatment, consider seeking a second opinion from a physician who frequently deals with your specific condition.

How you decide to manage your back pain will ultimately depend on many things. Taking all these factors into account will help you make a shared decision with your doctor to determine which of the available options are right for you.

For more on healing an aching back, review Back Pain, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: gilaxia/Getty Images

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Back Pain: Finding solutions for your aching back

Featured content:

 
Why is back pain so common?

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Harnessing the upsides of stress

Changing your mindset doesn't mean taking a Pollyanna view of the world. The key isn't to deny stress, but to recognize and acknowledge it—and then to find the upside, because a full-throttle fight-or-flight response is not the only possible reaction to stress (at least when the stress does not involve a potentially life-threatening situation).

In people with a more stress-hardy mindset, the stress response is often tempered by the challenge response, which accounts for the so-called excite-and-delight experience that some people have in stressful situations, such as skydiving. Like the typical stress response, the challenge response also affects the cardiovascular system, but instead of constricting blood vessels and ramping up inflammation in anticipation of wounds, it allows for maximum blood flow, much like exercise.

Get your copy of Stress Management: Enhance your well-being by reducing stress and building resilience
 
Stress Management: Enhance your well-being by reducing stress and building resilience
While some stress is inevitable, when your body repeatedly encounters a set of physiological changes dubbed the stress response, trouble can brew. Stress may contribute to or exacerbate various health problems. But it’s possible to dismantle negative stress cycles. This Special Health Report, Stress Management: Enhance your well-being by reducing stress and building resilience, can help you identify your stress warning signs and learn how to better manage stressful situations.

Read More

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Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups

Sit-ups once ruled as the way to tighter abs and a slimmer waistline, while "planks" were merely flooring. Now plank exercises, in which you assume a position and hold it, are the gold standard for working your core, while classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor. Why the shift?

Get your copy of Core Exercises: 5 workouts to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve balance
 
Core Exercises: 5 workouts to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve balance
Want to bring more power to athletic pursuits? Build up your balance and stability? Or are you simply hoping to make everyday acts like bending, turning, and reaching easier? A strong, flexible core underpins all these goals. Core muscles need to be strong, yet flexible, and core fitness, like that found in the Special Health Report Core Exercises: 5 workouts to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve balance, should be part of every exercise program.

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One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back - they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort.

Second, plank exercises recruit a better balance of muscles on the front, sides, and back of the body during exercise than do sit-ups, which target just a few muscles.

Finally, activities of daily living, as well as sports and recreational activities, call on your muscles to work together, not in isolation. Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout like plank exercises helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles you use every day.

For more ways to challenge your core muscles, read Core Exercises, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: JohnnyGrieg/Getty Images

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Core Exercises: 5 workouts to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve balance

Featured content:

 
The importance of your core
Safety first
Posture, alignment, and angles: Striking the right pose
Getting started
Measuring gains
Standing core workout
Floor core workout

Click here to read more »

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Another modification to the stress response is called tend-and-befriend. It explains why, after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, or the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, people felt the need to reach out to friends and relatives in the community—to assure themselves that loved ones were all right, to comfort the distressed or bereaved, and to shore up social networks. Connecting in this way actually helps reduce stress as opposed to, say, watching an endless loop of TV coverage. That's because tend-and-befriend also involves different balances of hormones—in particular, increased levels of oxytocin, which enhances bonding between a mother and child or between sexual partners, for example. It makes the brain's reward centers more responsive to social contact, and it is an important part of resilience.

Dialing back from full-on fight-or-flight can be simply a matter of changing your mindset. Studies have shown that when participants are told "You're the kind of person whose performance improves under pressure," it does—by as much as one-third. How can you shift your mindset? A 2015 book called The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal gives multiple ideas. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • When you notice a racing heart—for example, before you give a presentation or initiate a tough conversation—realize that your body is trying to give you more energy and see if you can capitalize on that.
  • If you are feeling nervous, pause to consider why, and ask yourself if it's because you're doing something that matters to you and therefore reinforces your values and gives meaning to your life.
  • Don't deny the stress, but redirect your energy away from it and toward the task at hand.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed with work or cares, try doing some small act of kindness for someone and note the mental reward you reap.
  • Nurture your social networks. Caring creates resilience.
  • Try to focus on the larger purpose of whatever you're doing. When you're stuck in a traffic jam taking your daughter to school, remember that it's because you love her and want her to get a good education.
  • Whatever you're doing, don't pretend that stress doesn't exist. People who deny it tend to isolate themselves and reinforce their fears. Instead, ask yourself why you're experiencing this stress and look for any positive aspects to it. Are you learning something from it? Are you gaining strength? Are you connecting with people on a more fundamental level? Do you feel more intensely alive?

For additional information on the dangers of stress and ways to relieve and manage it, buy Stress Management, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Hip Replacement: Is the timing right?

Age is an important factor in deciding when to go ahead with a hip replacement because artificial hip implants have limited life spans. You can only put a certain number of miles on your new hip before it wears out. If you are overweight or very physically active, your new joint may wear out faster.

Given the average life span for Americans, many of the older adults who get a new hip in their 60s or 70s may never need to have it replaced.

This is why most people are encouraged to delay total hip replacement until at least their 60s, if possible. If you are in your 40s or 50s, a new hip is likely to wear out during your lifetime. Then you'll need to have revision surgery to take out the old one and replace it.

Get your copy of Total Hip Replacement
 
Total Hip Replacement
If you are wondering whether total hip replacement is for you, this Harvard Medical School guide can help you to make that important decision in consultation with your primary care doctor and orthopedic specialist. We’ll explain how your hips work and why people end up needing new ones. Inside Total Hip Replacement, you’ll also learn how artificial joints work, the many different types of hip implants, the alternatives to surgery, the risks and complications of surgery, and how to make a safe and full recovery.

Read More

How much pain and disability do you have?

The pain and physical limitations of advanced hip arthritis can wear you down physically and emotionally. The decision to have a joint replacement is based on the amount of damage to the joint, your symptoms, and your overall level of disability. Here are some signs that it may be time to consider hip replacement:

Joint health

  • X-rays show advanced arthritis or other damage.
  • The joint is visibly deformed, bowing inward or outward.

Symptoms

  • You have significant pain daily.
  • Pain keeps you awake at night despite the use of medications.
  • Pain and swelling don't decrease with rest and medication.
  • Pain medications are causing severe side effects.

Loss of function

  • Pain and stiffness limit your ability to do normal, everyday activities.
  • It's difficult for you to bend or rotate your hips.

Are you healthy enough for surgery?

Before making your decision, you'll need to undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation by your primary care doctor or orthopedic specialist. Hip replacement might be too risky if you have any of the following conditions:

  • an active infection in the hip or elsewhere in the body
  • a significant medical condition, including recent heart attack, ongoing chest pain from heart disease, or heart failure
  • poor circulation that could interfere with healing
  • severely damaged or nonworking hip muscles or ligaments
  • damaged nerves in the hip
  • neuromuscular disease such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or stroke
  • an allergy to materials used to make artificial joints.

To learn more about the benefits and risks of hip replacement surgery, read Total Hip Replacement, an online guide from Harvard Medical School. 

 

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Discover simple stretches

Harvard Health Publishing

Discover simple stretches that improve balance, increase flexibility, and ease pain!

Stretching
Read More

Inside Stretching, you’ll discover...

35 stretches to ease pain and improve flexibility
Over 100 tips and techniques
Special Bonus Section: Warming up for sports
And so much more!

Dear Reader,

Does it hurt to turn your head to see cars in the lane behind you? Do your knees and back feel stiff and achy? Is it difficult to reach the cereal on the top shelf or bend down to pick up something off the floor?

Would you like to find an easy way to become more flexible, ease pain, improve your balance, and prevent falls that can threaten your independence?

Then take a look at this report from Harvard Medical School — Stretching: 35 stretches to improve flexibility and reduce pain.

With this Special Health Report, you’ll discover:

  • How a tight ankle or calf muscle can make you more likely to fall

  • The secret to making arthritic joints more flexible

  • 4 ways to make stretching easier

  • The trick to being flexible enough to touch your toes (check out page 5)

  • The best stretches to do to increase your range of motion

  • 2 muscles that can give you a pain in the back, and how you can get relief

  • And so much more!

You’ll learn how stretching and flexibility can help you improve your balance and prevent falls. Plus, you’ll get photos of master trainer Josie Gardiner performing 35 different stretches, as well as her tips for how to customize them to your ability. You’ll find moves to boost overall flexibility and loosen up tight muscles, plus specific stretches to ease back pain, sore knees, and the neck and shoulder pain that comes from spending too much time sitting at a desk staring at a computer!

To see how effective stretching can be, watch the video at right now.

Plus, you’ll get a special section on the stretches that warm you up before your workout, and charts that detail which stretches are best for a variety of sports, like golf, tennis, cycling, walking, swimming, and more.

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Harvard Health Publishing

Put back pain behind you — for good!

Learn the best strategies to speed relief, prevent recurrence, and keep your back fit and pain-free!

Learn anytime, anywhere!
You can access your Back Pain: Finding Solutions for Your Aching Back course whenever it’s convenient for you from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Easy login and simple-to-navigate screens make this online course perfect for adults of all ages.

Click Here to Learn More

The end. When it comes to back pain, there’s no better place to start. When back pain occurs, you want it to end. You want to get on with all the things you need to do, want to do, and love to do.

That’s where this new online course will take you. To the end of your back pain, to putting the brakes on the aches, to hastening relief, and helping you to a future secure and free from back pain.

This interactive course will show you how to quell and conquer your back pain safely and successfully. You’ll discover strategies for conditions ranging from bulging discs to compression fractures ...from strains and sprains to spondylitis and spinal stenosis.

You’ll understand the risk factors and the keys to an accurate diagnosis. You’ll learn treatment strategies, including the latest therapeutic and surgical options. And you’ll find proven tips and techniques for a stronger back.

Back Pain: Finding Solutions For Your Aching Back is loaded with engaging videos, helpful downloadable charts, and challenging quizzes. You’ll learn the smartest steps to resolve pain. You’ll be introduced to the most effective treatments for chronic conditions. And you’ll master the best exercises for resilient back health.

It’s the course you can count on to take you in the right direction!

In this course, you’ll find...

  • two common triggers for sciatica that you can easily avoid

  • the three “magic words” that can save you from an unneeded imaging test

  • the disc surgery technique that’s the gold standard for pain relief

  • the best sleep position (and best mattress) for your back

  • two surprising self-care steps that can dramatically speed healing

  • four “red flag” conditions that signal get to a doctor — fast!

  • a complementary therapy that’s proving as effective as medications

  • And more!

This empowering new course will help you set your course for ending your back pain and keeping it away!

You’ll discover the steps and treatments that bring effective and enduring relief...

Click Here to Learn More

  • the minimally-invasive spinal stenosis option that reduces the costs and risks of spinal fusion

  • 6 safe medications that work in minutes and will quell your pain for hours

  • 9 back-strengthening exercises to prevent flare-ups from muscle-related pain

  • five integrative therapies that can speed recovery from acute back pain

  • an outpatient procedure for compression fractures that takes less than an hour!

  • 7 back-healthy habits you can start right now!

The good news is that you don’t have to continue to face back pain. You can wake without the aches and enjoy each day to the fullest and you can do it with this remarkable new online learning course.

You can be free from the aches and agony of back pain with Harvard Health Publishing’s Back Pain: Finding Solutions for your Aching Back!

Look. Listen. AND LEARN!

Back Pain is a dynamic, interactive, audio visual course packed with content and designed for convenience. You choose the time and you set the pace. The course lets you:

  • Get information you can use from a source you can trust

  • Enjoy guidance from America’s top orthopaedic experts when and where it’s most convenient for you

  • Watch, pause, and watch again as often as you want

  • Share the learning experience with your spouse and loved ones

  • Download charts, quizzes, video presentations, and more!

 

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Don’t spend another night tossing and turning ...

 

Get the sound sleep your body needs!

Do you feel like you struggle half the night just to get a few hours of shuteye, and then wake up feeling exhausted? You're not alone. An estimated 50-70 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder. And it’s not just frustrating — not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences for your health.

There’s no reason to miss out on a great night’s sleep. The experts at Harvard Medical School have created Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest, a Special Health Report that brings you the latest research on the science of sleep, plus the information you need to fall asleep faster, stay asleep all night, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Click here now to get your copy and discover: 

  • Why spending less time in bed helps people with insomnia get more restful sleep 
  • What to do if restless legs syndrome is keeping you awake 
  • 7 treatments for sleep apnea — that don’t require a CPAP machine 
  • What to do if frequent trips to the bathroom are keeping you awake all night
  • The therapy that works as well as medication to help you sleep
  • 4 ways to avoid jet lag that really work
  • The sleep position that helps ease low back pain
  • And more!

You’ll discover what to do if you sleepwalk or sleep eat, or are prone to night terrors. You'll learn how to get the rest you need if you work nights and need to sleep during the day. Inside Improving Sleep, you’ll also find quick quizzes that help you decide if depression or anxiety is making you sleepy, and so much more.

Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night's rest

Order
today and
SAVE 30%

off $29 cover price

This Special Health Report reveals:

  • The ideal room temperature for sleep
  • How just one cup of coffee in the morning can bring on a sleepless night
  • Why alcohol won’t help you sleep better (it’s actually linked to chronic insomnia)
  • 10 medical conditions that disrupt sleep
  • An online program that’s helping insomniacs get much-needed sleep
  • The only two drugs that help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer
 

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Surgery-free pain relief for hips and knees

surgery-free pain relief

Hip and knee pain can keep you from the activities you love, as well as make routine tasks difficult. But there are many ways to get you moving again pain-free, without surgery. Here are some of the treatments that can help relieve hip and knee pain.

Get your copy of Knees and Hips: A troubleshooting guide to knee and hip pain
 
Knees and Hips: A troubleshooting guide to knee and hip pain
Do your knees or hips hurt? Most people will at some point have knee or hip pain because these large joints have a demanding task: they must bear the full weight of your body while at the same time allowing for a wide range of motion. Wear and tear, injury, and simple genetic predisposition can all contribute to knee or hip pain. This Special Health Report, Knees and Hips: A troubleshooting guide to knee and hip pain, covers a wide range of knee and hip conditions and describes in detail treatments, preventive strategies, and surgeries.

Read More

Ultrasound, phonophoresis, and iontophoresis

Therapeutic ultrasound is a simple procedure that uses sound waves to increase blood flow, relax muscle spasms, and aid healing that leads to faster hip pain relief and knee pain relief. The therapist applies gel to your skin and moves an ultrasound wand over your skin around the painful area. In a special ultrasound technique called phonophoresis, medication (often hydrocortisone) is added to the gel. In a survey of orthopedic physical therapists, more than half said they would use ultrasound and phonophoresis to reduce soft-tissue inflammation (in tendinitis or bursitis, for example). These techniques are also used to manage pain, heal tissue, and help muscles stretch.

Iontophoresis uses electrical currents to speed the delivery of medication to damaged tissue, or simply to reduce muscle spasms and related irritation. Patches similar to Band-Aids are placed on the skin, and a painless, low-level current is applied for about 10 to 15 minutes. You may feel warmth or tingling during the treatment.

Therapeutic exercise

Strengthening the muscles around a damaged knee or hip can help reduce stress on a joint. For example, your hips have to do less work to support your body weight if your quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles are strong. Strong quadriceps can also take on some of the shock- absorbing work of the meniscus or cartilage in the knees. The proper balance of strength in the muscles can hold the joint in the most functional and least painful position. Flexibility exercises (to stretch and relax specific muscles) are also an important part of an exercise plan to improve joint function.

Gait retraining

Knee and hip problems can disrupt your normal walk by causing pain, restricting joint movement, or weakening muscles. And a person's normal pattern of standing, walking, or running may invite joint problems. It may take many years of walking with an abnormal gait before joint injury occurs. A physical therapist can analyze your gait and help you learn to move more efficiently. Initially, the "normal" gait may feel odd. It can take practice and continued instruction before it becomes comfortable, but it will eventually become natural for you. Physical therapists may also suggest a change in shoes or ways to strengthen muscles that can help restore a more aligned gait.

For more on strategies for pain-free knees and hips, plus a Special Bonus Section on knee and hip replacement, read Knees and Hips, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. 

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Stand tall to avoid sabotaging your posture

Chances are you do a lot to sabotage your posture during the course of an average day: reading a good book with your head down, sitting at a computer, or scrolling on your phone.

Activities like these can get your body in the habit of hunching or slouching. Over time this may lead to physical changes that make it harder to stand up straight and cause a curvature in your upper back, which doctors refer to as kyphosis.

While there are medical causes of kyphosis — such as arthritis, osteoporosis-related fractures in the spine, deteriorating discs, or injuries — some cases of kyphosis can be caused by chronic poor posture over many years.

Get your copy of Strength and Power Training for Older Adults

Enjoy fitness others will envy — with workouts you can do anytime, anywhere!

You can access Starting To Exercise on your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer. With easy log-in and simple-to-navigate screens, this online course is designed for adults of all ages.

In the online course, STARTING TO EXERCISE, today’s leading fitness instructors show you workouts that work...the exercises that will help you enjoy a healthier, more vigorous, and longer life!

It’s a fact: regular, vigorous exercise can add more than three years to your life! Exercise lessens your risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of certain cancers, strengthens bones, protects joints, and keeps your mind sharp.

This first-of-its-kind course from Harvard Health Publishing brings you exercises that reward your time and effort. You’ll master the smartest choices in aerobics and strength training. You’ll learn routines for maintaining balance and increasing flexibility. This comprehensive program is designed to give you results you’ll see — and feel.

MORE THAN 40 EXERCISES ARE ILLUSTRATED AND DEMONSTRATED!

Our instructors are at your command! Starting to Exercise makes it easy to search for a specific exercise, swipe to go back or move to the next routine; you can pause a video, or go big-screen on your iPad and share with a workout partner.

Starting To Exercise is packed with workouts to fit your schedule...and exercises you’ll not only stick with...but look forward to! It includes...

  • Cardio workouts — a dozen exercises — from curls to kicks and more for boosting heart fitness

  • Strength-training — the right moves to build muscles and keep your bones strong

  • The balance workout — exercises to help you avoid a disabling fall and stay steady on your feet

  • Flexibility stretches — exercises to keep you limber for daily activities or your favorite sport

Plus 7 Bonus Videos!
Including instructive tips and techniques from top fitness experts!

Strength and Power Training for Older Adults
Studies attest that strength training, as well as aerobic exercise, can help you manage and sometimes prevent conditions as varied as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It can also protect vitality, make everyday tasks more manageable, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Strength and Power Training for Older Adults answers your strength training questions and helps you develop a program that's right for you.

Read More

 

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Five healthy habits net more healthy years

POSTED FEBRUARY 19, 2020, 10:30 AM
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Are healthy habits worth cultivating? A recent study suggests healthy habits may help people tack on years of life and sidestep serious illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer. After all, if you’re going to gain an extra decade of life on this earth, you want to enjoy it!

Learn more »

 

 

Get your copy of Living Better, Living Longer
 
Living Better, Living Longer
With this Special Health Report, Living Better, Living Longer, you will learn the protective steps doctors recommend for keeping your mind and body fit for an active and rewarding life. You’ll get tips for diet and exercise, preventive screenings, reducing the risk of coronary disease, strengthening bones, lessening joint aches, and assuring that your sight, hearing, and memory all stay sharp. Plus, you’ll get authoritative guidance to help you stretch your health care dollar, select a health plan that meets your needs, prepare a health care proxy, and more.

Read More

More Blogs from Harvard Health

As coronavirus spreads, many questions and some answers

New study compares long-term side effects from different prostate cancer treatments

Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad

Living Better, Living Longer

Read More

Living Better, Living Longer

Featured content:

 
Planning ahead: What’s important to you?
Exercising as you age
Eating your way to a long, healthy life
Keeping your mind healthy
Steering clear of serious illnesses
•  ... and more!

Click here to read more »

 

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Harvard Health Publications Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Medical School experts reveal:

Secrets to a great night’s sleep

Get the sound sleep your body needs!

 

Do you feel like you struggle half the night just to get a few hours of shuteye, and then wake up feeling exhausted? You're not alone. An estimated 50-70 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder. And it’s not just frustrating — not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences for your health.

There’s no reason to miss out on a great night’s sleep. The experts at Harvard Medical School have created Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest, a Special Health Report that brings you the latest research on the science of sleep, plus the information you need to fall asleep faster, stay asleep all night, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Click here now to get your copy and discover: 

  • Why spending less time in bed helps people with insomnia get more restful sleep 
  • What to do if restless legs syndrome is keeping you awake 
  • 7 treatments for sleep apnea — that don’t require a CPAP machine 
  • What to do if frequent trips to the bathroom are keeping you awake all night
  • The therapy that works as well as medication to help you sleep
  • 4 ways to avoid jet lag that really work
  • The sleep position that helps ease low back pain
  • And more!

You’ll discover what to do if you sleepwalk or sleep eat, or are prone to night terrors. You'll learn how to get the rest you need if you work nights and need to sleep during the day. Inside Improving Sleep, you’ll also find quick quizzes that help you decide if depression or anxiety is making you sleepy, and so much more.

Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night's rest

Order
today and
SAVE 30%

off $29 cover price

This Special Health Report reveals:

  • The ideal room temperature for sleep
  • How just one cup of coffee in the morning can bring on a sleepless night
  • Why alcohol won’t help you sleep better (it’s actually linked to chronic insomnia)
  • 10 medical conditions that disrupt sleep
  • An online program that’s helping insomniacs get much-needed sleep
  • The only two drugs that help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer
  • No more restless nights, order Improving Sleep today!

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Stop living with the dangers of chronic

inflammation!

Harvard Health Publishing

Stop living with the dangers of chronic

inflammation!

Discover how you can boost resistance to inflammatory diseases and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s!

Understanding Inflammation

Understanding Inflammation is packed with helpful information such as:

The five signs of inflammation (and an easy way to remember them)
An overview of the immune system, with a clear illustration of the immune system in action
12 disease-fighting cells — the body’s “key players” — that attack bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens
Five of the most common causes of inflammation
The fascinating link between gum disease, inflammation, and heart disease
10 “influencers” that help reduce the risk of inflammation
Anti-inflammation diet and lifestyle changes you can try right away
 
Read More

Dear Reader,

If you’ve ever cut your finger or been stung by an insect, you’ve experienced inflammation. This acute inflammation is triggering a response within your body to halt and heal the injury. But there’s another form of inflammation that doesn’t halt and heal...it is inflammation that can hurt and harm.

What do today’s most challenging diseases have in common?

Chronic inflammation. Scientists now know that chronic inflammation plays a central and inciting role in heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and more.

This is the inflammation you cannot see. Inflammation that doesn’t heal. Inflammation that’s not only chronic in nature, but costly in its consequences.

You can control and conquer chronic inflammation!

From chronic joint ailments to Crohn’s disease...from diabetes to dementia...from asthma to atherosclerosis, chronic inflammation can initiate and accelerate illnesses that are often totally avoidable.

With this new downloadable report, you’ll understand how, unchecked, chronic inflammation precipitates damage. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to detect chronic inflammation...how to deflect its effects...and defeat its causes.

Practical guidance you need for the protection you want — and deserve!

You’ll read about the factors that contribute to chronic inflammation...the role of genetics and the environment...the foods that stimulate inflammation...and the one regular check-up that can forestall inflammation near your heart.

You’ll be introduced to a new test that reflects the levels of chronic inflammation in your body...a new drug that targets cardiovascular inflammation...and an affordable daily supplement with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Plus 24 more strategies that will “fire-proof” you from chronic inflammation.

Understanding Inflammation will brief you on the most effective medications to dampen the body’s inflammatory response. You’ll discover a host of health habits to defend against inflammation including the top foods to reduce the risk of chronic disease...the most effective exercises...and a surprisingly easy step that can quell inflammation and lift your spirits.

You can protect yourself from chronic inflammation. You can do it effectively. You can do it successfully. Don’t wait. Send for you copy of this informative and empowering report today!

 

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Harvard Doctors Reveal

Everything you need to know about mild cognitive impairment

 

Your memories of the past. Your dreams for the future. Your ability to recall, reason, and think. It’s all in that three-pound organ between your ears—your brain. With so much at stake, protecting your brain from cognitive decline should be your highest health priority.

 

Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment is here to help. The new guide from the experts at Harvard Medical School, is your indispensable handbook to understanding mild cognitive impairment (MCI), reducing its impact, and possibly preventing it from happening at all.

 

Yes, sometimes cognitive impairment is *reversible*

 

As you’ll learn in the guide, some types of MCI are reversible. For example, certain medications may cause reactions that mimic cognitive decline. Memory and other cognitive functions may be restored simply by changing medications. Or a person may have experienced a head injury, resulting in localized bleeding called a subdural hematoma. This can lead to changes in memory loss and thinking. If the blood is removed within weeks of the injury, memory function may recover. As the guide makes clear, be sure to consider all potential causes of MCI before assuming you can’t get your cognitive abilities back to where they were.

 

Shielding your brain against MCI

 

Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment reveals how you can take action to prevent or minimize MCI. You’ll learn, for example, how getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and lowering your stress levels can all boost your cognitive function. Giving your brain a workout through education and with mental challenges like puzzles and games can help, too. In addition, the guide explains how a traditional Mediterranean diet can lower the risk of MCI and slow the progression of dementia in people who have the condition.

 

The latest MCI treatment options

 

A lot of research is going on to find a drug treatment for MCI, but as of now there’s no medication or supplement that’s been proven effective. However, as the guide explains, there are other options. For example, cognitive training, in person or via computer, can help people with MCI develop their remaining cognitive skills. Another option is to improve cardiovascular fitness—for instance, by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and quitting smoking. This can reduce the chance of a blood vessel becoming blocked and causing brain damage.

 

Get to know the fundamentals of MCI

 

Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment gives you the information you need to approach MCI with confidence. The guide offers an overview of the brain’s different areas and explains how memories are created and stored. In easy-to-understand language, you’ll learn how MCI is different from dementia conditions like Alzheimer’s. You’ll also read about the risk factors for MCI, such as age, genetics, cardiovascular fitness, and depression, and how MCI is diagnosed.

There’s still more to discover in Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairmentincluding: five key indicators of memory-related MCI • the differences between memory-related MCI and MCI that affects other functions of the brain • an overview of the six cognitive domains, such as memory, language, and attention • how brain function changes with normal aging vs. MCI and dementia • how spending time with friends and family can do wonders for your brain health • and more!

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What’s the best way to manage agitation related to dementia?

 

 

You notice your loved one becoming more forgetful. She cannot recall her visit with her granddaughters yesterday. She claims she took her medications this morning, yet you find them untouched in her pill case. You wonder how this mild-mannered woman has become so angry, so quickly. She is often frightened now, disoriented, and unpredictable. Yet she still remembers every detail of your wedding day, the names of your four children, and how to play her favorite piano pieces. When you sing together, time temporarily stands still.

 

Your loved one received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Nights are the hardest time for her. You worry about her safety when she wanders through the house. She almost broke the door last week; you can tell her arm still hurts when you bathe her. She resists and yells at you when you take her to the bathroom. She has started to show behavioral symptoms of dementia.

 

Aggression and agitation in dementia

 

Behavioral and psychological symptoms are very common in dementia, and affect up to 90% of people living with dementia. In addition to memory changes, people with dementia may experience agitation, psychosis, anxiety, depression, and apathy. These behavioral symptoms often lead to greater distress than memory changes.

When people with dementia become agitated or aggressive, doctors often prescribe medications to control their behaviors in spite of the known risks of serious side effects. The most frequently prescribed medication classes for agitation in dementia carry serious risks of falls, heart problems, stroke, and even death.

 

Caregivers, who often experience burnout in managing aggressive behaviors, welcome medications that can temporarily decrease agitation. Unfortunately, aggressive and agitated behavior often contributes to the decision to transition a loved one to an alternative living situation.

 

New research shows that nondrug therapies are more effective

 

According to a new study looking at more than 160 articles, nondrug interventions appeared to be more effective than medications in reducing agitation and aggression in people with dementia. Researchers found that three nonpharmacologic interventions were more effective than usual care: multidisciplinary care, massage and touch therapy, and music combined with massage and touch therapy.

For physical aggression, outdoor activities were more efficacious than antipsychotic medications (a class of drugs often prescribed to manage aggression). For verbal aggression, massage and touch therapy were more effective than care as usual. As a result of this study, the authors recommend prioritization of nonpharmacologic interventions over medications, a treatment strategy also recommended by the practice guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association.

 

Helpful tips for caregivers

 

To decrease agitation and aggression with dementia, caregivers can help their loved ones in the following ways:

  • Find a multidisciplinary team of specialists. This may include a psychiatrist to carefully consider the risks and benefits of medications for managing behavior, a geriatrician to optimize your loved one’s medical situations, and an occupational therapist to consider modifications of a person’s living environment and daily routine.
  • Go for a walk or on an outing for a change of scenery. Physical activity has additional benefits on mood, memory, and lowering anxiety.
  • Add massage and touch therapy, or just provide a calming hand massage.
  • Incorporate music into your loved one’s daily routine.
  • Notice the first signs of agitation. Nondrug options work best the earlier they are used.
  • Get creative: discover what works and try using different senses. Aromatherapy, an activity such as folding (and refolding) laundry, brushing hair, or dancing can all be calming.
  • Consult with your physicians. Medications are often prescribed as first-line interventions despite what we know about the effectiveness of nondrug options.
  • Educate all the people caring for your loved one on the interventions that work best, and check in with them about how these approaches are working.

The bottom line

 

To decrease agitation and aggression in people with dementia, nondrug options are more effective than medications. Physical activity, touch and massage, and music can all be used as tools to manage agitation related to dementia.

 

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9 ways to fix foot pain

Pain is a symptom common to many foot conditions, and pain medications can often help relieve foot pain. You also can try other approaches, either before resorting to pain relievers or in conjunction with them. For example, you can try an ice pack or a warm foot soak before reaching for the pain pills.

In general, if your skin feels warm to the touch (indicating that your foot is inflamed and possibly swollen), apply ice. Don't apply warmth to an inflamed area because it will only increase the blood flow and make the inflammation worse.

Get your copy of Healthy Feet: Preventing and treating common foot problems
 
Healthy Feet: Preventing and treating common foot problems
Do your arches ache or your heels hurt? Got gout or battling bursitis? If so, you are among the three out of four Americans who will suffer some kind of foot ailment in their lifetime. This Special Health Report, Healthy Feet: Preventing and treating common foot problems, covers the most common foot problems and helps you prevent and treat them.

Read More

If your feet are tired and sore and your skin feels normal or cool to the touch, try soaking your feet in a warm bath to relax and soothe them. Pharmacies sell gel packs that you can either freeze or heat in the microwave, then apply to your feet. You can also try massage (see "Foot massage," below). Gently rubbing sore muscles and joints can often provide needed relief. But don't massage a foot that is inflamed or that you think might be injured.

Foot massage

When you think of massage, you may think of a neck or back rub. But your feet also benefit from a regular rubdown. And you may even be able to do it yourself. Massage improves circulation, stimulates muscles, reduces tension, and often alleviates pain. It also provides a time for you to examine your feet, giving you the chance to notice a problem before it gets worse. To do a massage:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair.Bend your left leg and rest your left foot gently on your right thigh.
  • Pour some skin lotion or oil into your hand.Rub it gently into your foot and massage your whole foot — toes, arch, and heel.
  • Do a deeper massage.Press the knuckles of your right hand into your left foot. Knead your foot as you would bread. Or work the skin and muscles by holding a foot with both hands and pressing your thumbs into the skin.
  • Using your hands, pull the toes back and forth or apart.This gently stretches the muscles underneath.
  • Repeat on the other foot.

To enhance your massage, you can buy massage devices in local drugstoresor health stores. Look for foot rollers; these can provide fast foot massages at home or at work — take off your shoes and roll your feet over the massagers for a quick pick-me-up.

When it comes to pharmaceutical treatment, there are a number of different options. Some medications are topical — that is, you apply them to the skin. Others are systemic; these are usually taken in pill form. A summary of the major categories of pain relief medications follows.  Be informed to ask your doctor.

1. Oral analgesics. This class of medications encompasses pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which relieve pain without relieving inflammation. Be sure to follow directions because taking too much acetaminophen can cause liver failure.

2. Topical analgesics. Topical pain medications are available in lotion, cream, or gel form. They are spread on the skin and penetrate inward to relieve some forms of mild foot pain. Some topical preparations — such as those containing menthol, eucalyptus oil, or turpentine oil — reduce pain by distracting the nerves with a different type of sensation. Another group delivers salicylates (the same ingredient as in aspirin) through the skin. A third group counters a chemical known as substance P, which is a neurotransmitter that appears to transmit pain signals to the brain. These creams contain a derivative of a natural ingredient found in cayenne pepper. For that reason, they may burn or sting when first used.

3. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are available both with and without a prescription. Popular over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), and naproxen (Aleve). If you are taking an NSAID solely to relieve pain, expect to take a low dosage for a limited amount of time — usually until the pain is gone. If you have a condition that involves inflammation as well as pain, such as Achilles' tendinitis or a sprain, your doctor may advise you to take an NSAID at a higher dose and for a longer period, sometimes as much as several weeks. Why the difference? You can feel the pain-relieving effects of NSAIDs almost immediately, but you do not experience the full anti-inflammatory effects until a sufficient amount of the medication builds up in your bloodstream. Be aware that NSAID medications have a variety of side effects, so it is important to discuss your personal health risks with your doctor when considering their regular use.

If these over-the-counter options don't solve your foot pain problems, your doctor can prescribe a variety of prescription medication and treatment options, as described below.

4. COX-2 inhibitor. A type of prescription NSAID known as a COX-2 inhibitor — such as celecoxib (Celebrex) — relieves pain and inflammation and may reduce the risk for gastric ulcers and bleeding, which sometimes make older NSAIDs difficult to tolerate. COX-2 inhibitors have their own side effects, though, so it is important to discuss your personal health risks with your doctor when considering the long-term use of these medications.

5.Nerve pain medications. Pain caused by nerve damage (neuropathy) may not respond well to acetaminophen or NSAIDs. Three commonly prescribed medications for neuropathy are amitriptyline (Elavil), gabapentin (Neurontin), and pregabalin (Lyrica).

6. Nerve blocks. A nerve block is an injection that numbs a particular nerve to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain (much as lidocaine does in a dentist's office). It's effective for severe pain or for use during a surgical procedure.

7. Corticosteroids. These medications are synthetic forms of naturally occurring hormones produced by the adrenal glands. Corticosteroids may be given in the form of pills or injections to decrease inflammation and thus relieve pain. Topical corticosteroids, applied directly to the skin, are useful only in treating rashes, not for pain due to musculoskeletal injuries.

For more ways to fix your foot pain, buy Healthy Feet: Preventing and treating common foot problems, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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HHP Shield

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL EXPERTS REVEAL

Top ways to find freedom and relief from shoulder pain

Shoulder Pain

Heal and end 15 common shoulder problems including rotator cuff injuries, bursitis, tendinitis, shoulder separation, impingement, frozen shoulder, and more.

Healing Shoulder Pain

The Healing Shoulder Pain Special Health Report includes:

Why do we get shoulder pain?
The anatomy of the shoulder
Common shoulder problems
Poor posture and shoulder pain: What’s the connection?
Diagnosing shoulder pain
Conservative (nonsurgical) treatments
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

Raise your hand if you’ve never had shoulder pain. Indeed, shoulder pain can make even that simple act agonizing.

Shoulder problems not only keep you from doing the things you enjoy but make even routine daily activities daunting and difficult.

You can find freedom and relief from shoulder pain!

The fact is, more than 70% of people will suffer the effects of shoulder pain. You don’t have to be one of them!

In this report you’ll find how you can reduce and relieve shoulder pain...the best techniques to reverse and repair damage...and tips to strengthen and protect your shoulder’s mobility and durability.

You can’t just shrug off shoulder pain.

Shoulder problems rarely go away on their own. Healing Shoulder Pain will show you how to speed their departure with targeted diagnoses and tailored treatments.

You’ll discover how to accurately pinpoint the condition triggering your pain and how to effectively and safely achieve lasting pain relief and maintain flexibility and renewed range-of-motion.

You don’t have to wince — or wonder.

From the doctors of Harvard Medical School, the Report will take you from symptoms to source to solution. You’ll learn the telltale symptoms that distinguish tendinitis from bursitis...what condition a “Popeye muscle” bulge may signal...and the sometimes unrecognized signs of a rotation cuff tear.

You’ll find the ideal imaging test to diagnose shoulder problems...why you may be increasingly vulnerable to shoulder impingement...and a condition whose symptoms women especially need to watch for.

The bottom line on the best first line treatments!

Healing Shoulder Pain will show you how to initiate pain relief and improve mobility with the least invasive procedures. You’ll discover a proven approach to end the pain of a separated shoulder...a gentle technique to thaw a frozen shoulder...the most effective OTC medications for shoulder arthritis...a complete shoulder workout to strengthen shoulder muscles...and much more.

You’ll be in the forefront of today’s advances in shoulder surgery.

You’ll learn the important considerations when choosing a surgical procedure...what to expect before, during, and after surgery...and the breakthroughs that are lessening pain and speeding recovery.

You’ll be briefed on an outpatient procedure to relieve chronic arthritis pain...the one gold standard surgery for long-term pain relief...an arthroscopic technique to stabilize a joint after repeated dislocations and two new technologies that are making shoulder surgery easier and safer than ever.

Wave goodbye to shoulder pain! Don’t wait! Send for your copy of Healing Shoulder Pain today.

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Harvard Health Publishing

Before You Say “YES” to a Hip Replacement, READ THIS...

Total Hip Replacement

Expert help is just 5 minutes away!

Why hips wear out
Making a hip replacement decision
Pre-surgery considerations
Surgical pros and cons
What to expect in the hospital
Home rehabilitation tips
And more from the experts at Harvard Medical School, America’s #1 medical school for research as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
Read More

Dear Reader,

Do you often feel pain in the front of your hip or in your groin? A reduced range of motion in your hip? Is it difficult to stand up or walk — or even put on your shoes?

These can be signs that your hip joint is wearing out. And while exercise, medications weight loss and physical therapy may help for a while, at some point your doctor may recommend a hip replacement.

This is a critically important decision not to be taken lightly. Before you say “yes” it’s vital that you know exactly what’s involved...what options are open to you...how to minimize risks...plus the questions you must ask your doctor.

That’s why you should consult Total Hip Replacement the eye-opening, in-depth online guide from the experts a Harvard Medical School.

Get the answers you need in just 5 minutes! Click here

Step-by-step, you’ll discover how to confidently make the best decisions to help ensure the best possible outcome. For example:

Key considerations:
Have you exhausted these 6 other non-surgical options? Is the timing right? What objective criteria indicate that a replacement is necessary? Are you healthy enough? Are there viable alternatives to total hip replacement? Find out now!

Vital pre-surgery decisions:
How should you choose the best surgeon? What “prehabiltation” tips can help speed your recovery? What type of implant is best for you? What newer options might improve surgery results? What home preparations should you make? What surgical approaches are available? Get the answers you need!

What to expect at the hospital:
What type of anesthesia is used? What does the surgery entail? What does in-hospital recovery and rehabilitation look like? How do doctors decide when to discharge you? Now you’ll know!

What home rehabilitation will look like:
What precautions should you take? What are some at-home rehab exercises? How can you avoid post-surgery hip dislocation? When will you be able to drive again? Fast answers are at your fingertips!

Total Hip Replacement: What You Need to Know About Getting a New Joint is the convenient, one-stop online source for the answers you need to make the most informed decision about hip replacement. If a hip replacement is in your future, order this online guide today to help ensure the best possible outcome.

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The gut-brain connection

Pay attention to your gut-brain connection – it may contribute to your anxiety and digestion problems

the gut-brain connection

The gut-brain connection is no joke; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a "gut-wrenching" experience? Do certain situations make you "feel nauseous"? Have you ever felt "butterflies" in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.

The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach's juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person's stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That's because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected.

Get your copy of The Sensitive Gut
 
The Sensitive Gut
When your digestive system is running smoothly, you tend not to think about it. Once trouble begins, your gut — like a squeaky wheel — suddenly demands your attention. This Special Health Report, The Sensitive Gut, covers the major sources of gastrointestinal distress: irritable bowel syndrome, gastric reflux, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, and excess gas. It also includes a special Bonus Section describing how emotional stress and anxiety can cause gastrointestinal distress.

Read More

This is especially true in cases where a person experiences gastrointestinal upset with no obvious physical cause. For such functional GI disorders, it is difficult to try to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion.

Gut health and anxiety

Given how closely the gut and brain interact, it becomes easier to understand why you might feel nauseated before giving a presentation, or feel intestinal pain during times of stress. That doesn't mean, however, that functional gastrointestinal conditions are imagined or "all in your head." Psychology combines with physical factors to cause pain and other bowel symptoms. Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract.

In addition, many people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than other people do because their brains are more responsive to pain signals from the GI tract. Stress can make the existing pain seem even worse.

Based on these observations, you might expect that at least some patients with functional GI conditions might improve with therapy to reduce stress or treat anxiety or depression. Multiple studies have found that psychologically based approaches lead to greater improvement in digestive symptoms compared with only conventional medical treatment.

Gut-brain connection, anxiety and digestion  

Are your stomach or intestinal problems — such as heartburn, abdominal cramps, or loose stools — related to stress? Watch for these and other common symptoms of stress and discuss them with your doctor. Together you can come up with strategies to help you deal with the stressors in your life, and also ease your digestive discomforts.

For more on the connection between brain and gut health, read The Sensitive Gut, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Win the fight against osteoporosis

HHP Shield

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL EXPERTS REVEAL

The best ways to strengthen your bones and slash your risk of fractures and more!

Healthy Women

Win the fight against osteoporosis, reduce your risk of falling, and stay active

As long as you’re able to do the activities you want, you probably don’t give your bones a second thought. But did you know that after age 30 you start losing bone density? In fact, women will lose up to 20 percent of bone mineral density in the five to seven years after menopause. And by age 65 men and women lose bone density at the same rate. Sadly loss of bone mass often ends up causing life-changing fractures. The good news is you don’t have to wait for a fall or break to fight the disease.

Make a move toward better bones today!

Harvard Health Publications

Now a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School brings you the best ways to build strong bones and prevent severe bone loss. You’ll learn:

  • Why too little body fat may make you more likely to get osteoporosis

  • Why moving more could decrease your risk of a debilitating spine or hip fracture by as much as 50%

  • 18 common medications that lead to bone loss

  • Why your body needs to pull more and more calcium from bones as you age

  • 2 ways exercise protects your bones and fights osteoporosis

  • The vitamin that blocks substances that break down your bone

  • And more.

Learn dietary, supplement, and lifestyle changes that will help protect your bones.

Click here now to discover the best ways to keep your bones strong for life...

  • The “hormone” vitamin that helps you absorb more calcium from the foods you eat

  • 8 veggies that are high in calcium

  • The type of calcium supplement that’s best if you’re taking heartburn medications

  • Why you may not be getting enough calcium even if you’re taking a supplement with 100% of the RDA or more!

  • How too much protein can cause calcium to leave your bones

Plus, you’ll get a Special Bonus Section — Strength training and balance exercises for bone health — at no extra cost!

Included in this report are 14 exercises that help stimulate extra deposits of calcium and push bone-building cells into action. Each exercise is accompanied by a photo and written explanation to make sure you’re doing the move correctly.

Click here and try one of the moves for free!

 

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Hearing loss may affect brain health

The ear is the organ responsible for perceiving sound, and the brain is responsible for processing the sound. It is necessary that both organs work properly for hearing to occur. There has been extensive research examining how age-related hearing loss and brain function (cognition) are associated.

Get your copy of Coping with Hearing Loss
 
Coping with Hearing Loss
If you think you might need a hearing checkup, you probably do. This Special Health Report, Coping with Hearing Loss: A guide to prevention and treatment, contains in-depth information on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss. You'll learn how to prevent hearing loss and preserve the hearing you have now. You'll also learn about the latest advances in hearing aid technology and find out which kind of hearing device may be best for you.

Read More

Grain or seed of the month: Wheat

Eating more whole grains is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, which is why the federal dietary guidelines say to "make half your grains whole." But most people aren't even close to that goal. According to the CDC, whole grains account for only about 16% of the total grain-based food adults eat on any given day.

Additional News from Harvard Health Publishing

Eating nuts: A strategy for weight control?

Gout drug may help prevent repeat heart attacks

Rural health risks?

Coping with Hearing Loss

Read More

Coping with Hearing Loss

Featured content:

 
How we hear
When hearing loss occurs
Testing for hearing loss
SPECIAL SECTION: Selecting a hearing aid
Surgery for hearing loss
•  ... and more!

Click here to read more »

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Get relief for stiff, aching hands

from the hand experts at Harvard Medical School

Healthy Hands

Inside Healthy Hands, you’ll discover:

Hand structure and explanation of how your hands work
The best professional to treat specific hand problems
Types of hand arthritis
Tendon problems
Carpal tunnel syndrome and other “pinched” nerves
Traumatic hand and wrist injuries
Hand exercises
“Handy” and helpful gadgets
Plus a special bonus section on Joint Reconstruction at no extra cost
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

Your hands help you do everything from pouring a cup of coffee to typing on a keyboard to brushing your teeth. But when your hands hurt, it can make even the simplest task a painful ordeal.

To help keep your hands strong, healthy, and pain-free for life, doctors, physical therapists, and a certified hand therapist at Harvard Medical School created a new report, Healthy Hands.

This detailed guide explains the major problems that affect hands and brings you the latest treatments for getting relief. Through photos and illustrations you’ll discover the intricate architecture of tendons, joints, ligaments and nerves that make up your hands, so you can understand why you may be experiencing pain or are having difficulty gripping an object.

This fascinating report is full of helpful insights, proven strategies and advice to help ensure your hands are healthy so you can enjoy working, playing, and communicating for years to come.

Click here now and discover:

  • The spice that is as effective as ibuprofen for treating some arthritis

  • The type of drug that may eliminate some people’s need for hand surgery

  • The best way to get relief if you have Raynaud’s syndrome

  • How omega-3 fatty acids may help curb the inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis

  • What to do if you’re diagnosed with “trigger finger”

  • 5 diseases that make you more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Where topical pain relievers are most effective

  • And much, much more

You’ll learn surprising facts about your hands and the very best treatments for common problems like osteoarthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome to not-so-common conditions such as De Quervain’s tendinitis and cubital tunnel syndrome.

Plus, you’ll get a Special Bonus Section at No Extra Cost! Joint reconstruction for arthritic hands brings you the latest advances in materials and surgical techniques that make replacing the hand joints — including the entire wrist as well as knuckle and finger joints — a viable option. Read more

You’ll also get hand exercises that can help improve range of motion, strengthen and stretch muscles and tendons, and tips for improving dexterity.

Test Your Hand Strength! Try this exercise now — it’s FREE. See exercise

 

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Discover the steps and secrets to
lower blood pressure!

You can live free from the dangers of hypertension! Enjoy greater cardiovascular fitness — and better health — starting now!

Learn anytime, anywhere!
You can access your Controlling Your Blood Pressure course whenever it’s convenient for you from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Easy login and simple-to-navigate screens make this online course perfect for adults of all ages.

Click Here to Learn More

The latest guidelines have made the importance of maintaining lower blood pressure numbers abundantly clear. Indeed, now nearly half of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure, with double the risk of heart attacks and strokes as well as increased risk of kidney failure, loss of eyesight, and even Alzheimer’s. You don’t have to be in that group. You can effectively and successfully lower your blood pressure.

This interactive online course will show you how. You’ll discover the strategies, the medications, and simple lifestyle changes that will make a truly significant and measurable difference.

You will understand hypertension’s causes and its effects. You’ll learn tips and techniques for reducing your blood pressure from top Harvard doctors. You’ll find a course packed with engaging videos, helpful downloadable charts, and interactive quizzes.

You’ll discover an extraordinary diet that can lower systolic blood pressure 11 points in 8 weeks! You’ll find exercises that reward your effort...ways to ease stress and improve sleep...and even how to insure the most accurate blood pressure reading.

The up-to-the-minute guidance you need to bring your blood pressure numbers down!

In this course, you’ll find...

  • an eating plan that reduces blood pressure as effectively as most medications!

  • 3 cures for “getting-out-of-bed” dizziness

  • 6 keys for assuring an accurate blood pressure reading

  • the surprising cause of “part-time” hypertension — and how to end it for good!

  • how to reduce stress in three minutes — or even one!

  • great “no-sweat” exercises for lowering blood pressure

  • And more!

Click Here to Learn More

This dynamic course incorporates the best strategies for lowering your blood pressure and boosting your cardiovascular health.

You’ll discover the steps that can take you further including...

  • the nutritionists’ discovery that can lower blood pressure 16 points — and boost good cholesterol too

  • the workout that reduces blood pressure and combats brain aging

  • 10 sodium-free options to shake the salt habit

  • how to find the most helpful Smartphone health apps

  • 16 effective medications — with fewer side effects

  • how to detect and defeat dangerous masked hypertension

The good news is that what’s gone up can come down. You can get your numbers in line... and you can do it with this remarkable online learning course.

Be on your way to better and lasting health with Harvard Health Publishing’s Controlling Your Blood Pressure. Don’t miss out.

You’ll learn at home — and feel at home!

With Harvard Health Publishing’s Controlling Your Blood Pressure online course, you choose the time and you set the pace. The course lets you:

  • Get information you can use from a source you can trust

  • Learn from America’s leading experts when and where it’s most convenient for you

  • Watch, pause, and watch again as often as you want

  • Share the learning experience with your spouse and loved ones

  • Includes downloadable charts, quizzes, progress trackers, worksheets, and more!

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4 ways to boost your self-compassion

Take a moment to think about how you treat yourself when you make a mistake or fail to reach a goal. If you tend to beat yourself up when things go wrong, you, like most people, can use a little more self-compassion in your life.

Forgiving and nurturing yourself seem to have benefits in their own right. Strong self-compassion can even set the stage for better health, relationships, and general well-being. So far, research has revealed a number of benefits of self-compassion. Lower levels of anxiety and depression have been observed in people with higher self-compassion. Self-compassionate people recognize when they are suffering and are kind to themselves at these times, thereby lowering their own levels of related anxiety and depression.

Get your copy of Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength
 
Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength
Positive emotions have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being in numerous scientific studies. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease, as people react to these feelings with raised blood pressure and stiffening of blood vessels. But it isn’t easy to maintain a healthy, positive emotional state. Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength is a guide to the concepts that can help you find well-being and happiness, based on the latest research.

Read More

Learn to have self-compassion

Some people come by self-compassion naturally, but not everyone does. Luckily, it is a learnable skill. Several methods have been proposed, and training programs are being developed, to help people discover and cultivate their own self-compassion.

Here are four ways to give your self-compassion skills a quick boost:

  • Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest. Massage your own neck, feet, or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.
  • Write a letter to yourself. Think of a situation that caused you to feel pain (a breakup with a lover, a job loss, a poorly received presentation). Write a letter to yourself describing the situation, but without blaming anyone — including yourself. Use this exercise to nurture your feelings.
  • Give yourself encouragement. Think of what you would say to a good friend if he or she was facing a difficult or stressful situation. Then, when you find yourself in this kind of situation, direct these compassionate responses toward yourself.
  • Practice mindfulness. Even a quick exercise, such as meditating for a few minutes, can be a great way to nurture and accept ourselves while we're in pain.

For more ways to draw on your strengths and find the positive meaning in your life, review Positive Psychology, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Living Better, Living Longer Podcast

Mindful eating begins with switching quantity with quality

If you find losing weight difficult, don't worry about how much you consume. Instead concentrate on eating quality foods like fruit and vegetables, lean animal or plant-based proteins and healthy fats. Then apply the portion control strategy of using smaller plates, smaller glasses and earlier eating times. These ideas come from Dr. W. Scott Butsch, Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an obesity medicine physician.

Listen now »

Get your copy of Lose Weight and Keep It Off
 
Lose Weight and Keep It Off
Successful weight loss depends largely on becoming more aware of your behaviors and starting to change them. Instead of relying on willpower, this process demands skill power. This Special Health Report, Lose Weight and Keep It Off, offers a range of solutions that have worked for many people and can be tailored to your needs.

Read More

 

Recent Podcast Episodes

Episode 21: This year, resolve to challenge your brain

Episode 20: How to take control of your blood pressure today

Episode 19: Do you or a loved one have prostate cancer? You'll want to listen to this

Lose Weight and Keep It Off

Read More

Lose Weight and Keep It Off

Featured content:

 
Overweight and obesity: What's behind the growing trend?
How excess weight affects your health
When to seek professional help
Weight-loss basics
Choosing the diet that fits you best
•  ... and more!


Click here to read more »

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Are you getting enough sleep?

 

Maybe you stay up past midnight watching TV or checking your smartphone while lounging in bed. Or perhaps you snuggle under the covers and close your eyes at a decent hour, but then toss and turn, unable to fall asleep. Whatever the reason, the results are familiar to many people — feeling unrefreshed and maybe even a bit cranky when you wake up the next morning. According to the CDC, about one in three adults doesn't get enough sleep.

"Some people have trouble falling asleep. But others choose to stay awake and end up chronically sleep deprived," says Dr. Sogol Javaheri, a sleep specialist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. When you don't sleep enough, feeling tired and bleary-eyed is only part of the problem. People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep nightly face a higher risk of heart disease as well as other, often co-occurring conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Read more »

Improving Sleep

Read More

Improving Sleep

Featured content:

 
Sleep mechanics
Sleep throughout life
Dangers of sleep deprivation
SPECIAL SECTION: Practical tips for sounder sleep
Medical conditions that disrupt sleep
•  ... and more!


Click here to read more »

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That depends on what you add to those greens.

A strong core: The simple, flexible, and portable workout

Strengthening your core muscles doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can do these simple exercises anywhere and adapt them as you gain fitness.

The office workout

The following routine is a great way to ease into core work. You can do these four exercises at work, without your colleagues being any the wiser. You can do these exercises at home, too, thanks to simple variations. The front plank, for example, can be done while either leaning on your desk or using the kitchen counter to support your weight.

Get your copy of Gentle Core Exercises: Start toning your abs, building your back muscles, and reclaiming core fitness today
 
Core Exercise
Gentle core exercises are specially designed for people who aren't up to tackling regular core exercises, perhaps because they are out of shape or possibly due to an injury or health problem. This Special Health Report will show you how to build your core with workouts that are gentle and rewarding. You’ll be introduced to more than three dozen exercises designed to strengthen core muscles, increase flexibility and stability, improve balance, and tone your silhouette.
 
Read More

Equipment needed: Desk (a table or countertop is also fine), exercise mat, and sturdy chair.

Chair Stand

Chair Stand

Front Plank on Desk

Front Plank on Desk

Bridge

Bridge

Abdominal Contraction

Abdominal Contraction

To learn more about building a strong core, buy Gentle Core Exercises: Start toning your abs, building your back muscles, and reclaiming core fitness today, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

 

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Gentle Core Exercises

Featured content:

 
The importance of your core
Tailoring gentle core exercises to your abilities
Structuring your workout: Four commonly asked questions
Posture and alignment
Choosing which gentle core exercises to do
... and more!


Click here to read more »

 

 

Harvard Health Publishing

Learn the smart way to reshape your future!

Slim without sacrifice...with foods you enjoy...and with results you’ll love.

Boost your health in just weeks — with dividends that will last a lifetime!

Lose Weight and Keep It Off
Read More

In Lose Weight and Keep It Off, you’ll find...

10 “healthy” foods that really aren’t!
8 “ingredients” that you should put in your pantry now.
A dinnertime “trick” that can have your family eating 20% less!
6 ways to burn 300 calories in just 30 minutes
The two reasons why it’s so hard to lose those last few pounds
A 50-cent tool that can double your weight loss!
BONUS Section: What to EatA 7-Day Meal Plan That Works!

Dear Reader,

Pick up a sack of potatoes. Carry it for ten minutes. You soon feel the strain. If you’ve put on “a few pounds,” your body is carrying that weight day after day. And that puts a strain on your heart, your joints, and more.

Shedding those added pounds can end joint pain, reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, boost your energy, and protect you against more than 50 chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

This Special Health Report will help you stay your healthiest best. You’ll find smart eating strategies that will take off the inches and add years to your life. You’ll learn how to avoid diet setbacks and make each meal work for you.

ORDER NOW for a 30% savings.

Every page sets you up for success. You’ll find foods, menus, and recipes filled with flavor and variety. And you’ll gain the know-how to outsmart the common obstacles that can derail your progress. You’ll discover...

...the healthiest and most satisfying foods. You’ll find that you don’t have to count calories to lose weight. You’ll be introduced to great options and simple, easy substitutions. You’ll get helpful tips for dining out, and variety-filled menus and recipes for tempting meals at home.

...the “secrets” to sticking with it! You’ll learn how to stay motivated and sidestep the pitfalls. You’ll get tips for reorganizing your kitchen (Where did I put those chips?). You’ll read how to avoid temptation at parties, simplify meal prep, and subdue those empty-calorie cravings.

... honest assessments of today’s plans, programs, and more. In the report, Harvard doctors share the facts about the leading diet programs and home-delivered meal plans. You’ll be briefed on the latest advances in bariatric surgery, how the new weight-loss medications compare, and more.

Don’t miss out! Send for your copy of Lose Weight and Keep It Off now!

Read More

Howard E. LeWine, M.D.
Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

P.S. Harvard Medical School was again ranked as the country’s #1 Medical School for Research by US News & World Report.

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LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go?

POSTED JANUARY 20, 2020, 10:30 AM
Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD, Contributor

Elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol is a clearly established risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Lowering LDL with medications and/or lifestyle changes has been shown to lower CVD risk. Just how far to lower LDL, however, has remained controversial.

Learn more »

Get your copy of Managing Your Cholesterol
 
Managing Your Cholesterol
Managing Your Cholesterol offers up-to-date information to help you or a loved one keep cholesterol in check. The report spells out what are healthy and unhealthy cholesterol levels, and offers specific ways to keep cholesterol in line. It covers cholesterol tests and the genetics of cholesterol. The report also focuses on treatments based on the latest scientific evidence, including the pros and cons of statins and other medications, and provides the lowdown on other substances advertised to lower cholesterol. Managing Your Cholesterol can also help you work with your doctor to individualize your treatment.

Read More

More Blogs from Harvard Health

Is your cell phone dangerous to your health?

Diabetic retinopathy: Understanding diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss

Beyond heart health: Could your statin help prevent liver cancer?

Managing Your Cholesterol

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Managing Your Cholesterol

Featured content:

 
Cholesterol: Good, bad, and indifferent
Cholesterol and heart disease
Understanding your cardiovascular risk
Why treat cholesterol?
Your cholesterol test
•  ... and more!

Click here to read more »

 

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Restaurant survival strategies

Your best bet for meeting your health goals is to cook your own meals at home, where you can control the ingredients and portion sizes. However, we all enjoy eating out from time to time. Just keep in mind that restaurant meals—in particular, fast-food meals—are linked with higher intakes of calories, sugar, saturated fat, and sodium, and lower intakes of healthful foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. One of the biggest problems you'll face when you dine out is sheer portion size, which has increased dramatically over the years. Those bigger portions translate into more calories, sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.

Fortunately, the dining scene has improved. The FDA now requires chain restaurants to provide consumers with clear and consistent nutrition information on menus, menu boards, and in writing, which can help you make healthier choices. And more and more restaurants are meeting consumers' desires for healthier fare by providing smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables on the menu, more vegetarian options, and lighter preparation styles.

Get your copy of A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices
 
A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices
Eat real food. That’s the essence of today’s nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard’s Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices describes how to eat for optimum health.

Read More

Follow these tips for dining out healthfully:

  • Patronize restaurants where good choices—seafood, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables—abound.
  • Check out the restaurant website in advance in order to decide what you'll order, instead of making impulse decisions. Many restaurants post their menus online, enabling you to find the healthiest entrees. Some even list nutritional information on menu items. Beware of those with high calorie, fat, sugar, and sodium levels.
  • Skip pan-fried or deep-fried foods. Instead, look for foods prepared with healthful techniques, such as baking, grilling, poaching, or roasting.
  • Avoid dishes prepared with gravy and heavy sauces. Or ask the waiter to use half the sauce or to serve the sauce on the side so you can decide how much of it to use. Because gravy is often made with fatty pan drippings from meat, it's relatively high in saturated fat. Many sauces are made with butter and cream, which are also high in saturated fat.
  • Resize your portions: split a meal with a friend, order small plates or side dishes, or take half of it home for lunch the next day. Take advantage of the "small plates" trend, in which you and your dining companions share small servings and avoid large portions of single dishes.
  • Get extra vegetables. Many restaurant entrees don't come with a generous serving of vegetables. But you can easily remedy that by asking for more vegetables, ordering vegetables from the side dish selection, or substituting vegetables or a salad for a less,healthful side dish, such as fries.
  • Lighten up dessert. Skip the indulgent, rich desserts, such as ice cream, cakes, and pastries (some can contain more than 1,000 calories) and go for simple treats, such as berries and peaches. If you want a sweet dessert, share it with others at your table. You'll get the full taste, but just a fraction of the calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats.
  • Watch those beverages. Sweetened drinks (often refilled during the meal) and alcoholic beverages can add hundreds of calories to your meal. Opt for sparkling water, plain tea, or coffee.

For more tips on making nutritious choices while eating out, read A Guide to Healthy Eating, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. 

 

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Learning diaphragmatic breathing

diaphragmatic breathing

The diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs, plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity. 

All of us are born with the knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to the practice of "sucking in" the stomach for a trimmer waistline encourages us to gradually shift to shallower, less satisfying "chest breathing."
 

Get your copy of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Preventing, treating and coping with a serious breathing problem.
 
This Special Health Report, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Preventing, treating and coping with a serious breathing problem, banishes misinformation about COPD and briefs you on today’s most important treatment advances. You will be equipped to work with your physician to create a strategy to reduce COPD’s effects. You’ll learn which medications offer the greatest relief with the fewest side effects. You’ll discover how you can improve breathing efficiency, avoid harmful symptom flare-ups, and reduce your exposure to often-overlooked irritants.

Read More

Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone. Diaphragmatic breathing (also called "abdominal breathing" or "belly breathing") encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

But it's especially important for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD, air can become trapped in the lungs, which keeps the diaphragm pressed down. This causes it to weaken and work less efficiently. Diaphragmatic breathing can help people with COPD strengthen the diaphragm, which in turn helps them use less effort and energy to breathe.

Here's how to do it:

  • Lie on your back on a flat surface (or in bed) with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support, if that's more comfortable.
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position. 

You can also practice this sitting in a chair, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed. Practice for five to 10 minutes, several times a day if possible.

For more ways to manage and treat COPD, read Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

 

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You’re Just 6 Weeks from a
Healthier New YOU!

Learn anytime, anywhere!
You can access your 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating course whenever it’s convenient for you from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Easy login and simple-to-navigate screens make this online course perfect for adults of all ages.

Click Here to Learn More

Although messages about diet and nutrition are everywhere these days, it isn’t always easy to eat right and choose the healthiest foods. Now, in this interactive and informative online course from Harvard Medical School you’ll get a simple, easy-to-follow plan that will help you get healthier in just 6 weeks.

Through engaging videos, interactive slides, downloadable charts, and challenging quizzes, you’ll see how to help your health with food. You’ll learn which meals can help to reduce your risk of high cholesterol and may even help improve your memory. Quick tips for choosing the healthiest breakfast cereal, making a yummy, yet healthy sandwich, and a simple trick that helps make sure you don’t overeat at dinner.

Week by week, meal by meal, you’ll uncover the proven ways to fuel your body for better health.

Learning online is a fun, fascinating way to understand new information.

In this course, you’ll love discovering:

  • The zero-calorie alternative to snacking

  • Tips to help you overcome high-calorie snacking, sweet cravings, and fast food meals

  • A quick test to see if you need to drop a few pounds

  • The simple way you could lose twice as much weight as other people

  • How to automatically eat foods with the right amount of nutrients and fiber

  • A trick to make prepared meals healthier — they can even help lower the cost of the meal

  • And more!

Click Here to Learn More

This research-based plan helps you improve your health and well-being by eating right and moving more.

You’ll get everything you need to succeed, including:

  • Week-by-week meal makeovers

  • Food and exercise diaries that help you stay on track

  • Tips for setting goals you can achieve

  • Smart snack ideas

  • Weight loss secrets

  • 62 delicious meal ideas and recipes

Follow this simple plan and you’ll reduce your risk of chronic disease. In fact, men and women whose diets closely followed the plan cut their risk of heart disease by 33% or more.

Don’t miss out. Be on your way to better health with Harvard Health Publishing’s NEW online course: 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating!

Enjoy learning anytime, anywhere!

Harvard Health Publishing’s 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating online course let’s you:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn from top health and nutrition experts at your convenience

 

Watch, pause, and watch again as often as you want — whenever you want
  • Easily skip to slides and sections that interest you most

  • Course never expires — it’s always available

  • Includes downloadable charts, quizzes, food diaries, worksheets, and more!

 

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Better mental focus and  concentration

 

Focus on concentration

Everyone’s attention can drift at times, like when you lose your concentration for a moment while doing routine tasks. Many people shrug off these lapses in focus as “senior moments,” but they might be related to a vulnerable brain process called executive function.

Get your copy of Improving Concentration and Focus
 
Improving Concentration and Focus
This instructive guide from Harvard Medical School offers practical, proven, commonsense strategies to recapture your concentration and maintain your brain’s alertness and fitness. Improving Concentration and Focus addresses four focus-hindering factors you can control. You’ll discover why multi-tasking can actually erode memory skills and learn ways to give your brain essential “downtime.”  You’ll also learn what you can do to improve cognitive function and speed.

Read More
Improving Concentration and Focus

Read More

Improving Concentration and Focus

Featured content:

 
All about attention
Your brain: The inside story
Barriers to focus
Tips for better focus
Conquering distractions and finding focus
•  ... and more!

Click here to read more »

 

 

 

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Harvard Health Publishing

Discover the advances that are changing the face of skin care

Learn the secrets to more beautiful skin at any age

Find out how — starting right now — you can have softer,
healthier, and younger-looking skin

Skin Care and Repair

Inside Skin Care and Repair, you'll discover:

What is skin?
Skin and the aging process
Common skin conditions
Skin cancer
SPECIAL SECTION: Protecting your skin
Lotions and potions
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

Now you can take care of your skin as never before. This Special Health Report shares the exciting advances that are bringing a fresh look to skin care.

You’ll see how you can enjoy skin that is blemish-free...skin with fewer visible lines and wrinkles...skin with a healthy glow and a more youthful resiliency and softness.

Now you can lose the years — without the fears!

The report reveals and explains more than 40 safe and effective treatments and techniques that can make your skin look years younger...without the pain of chemical peels or the risk of cosmetic surgery.

The report will introduce you to a painless procedure that can shrink undereye bags...a new laser technique that can dramatically erase deep lines and wrinkles...a 60-minute therapy for reversing sun damage and diminishing age spots...and much, much more.

You can say goodbye to the itch and embarrassment of common skin problems!

The doctors of Harvard Medical School will show you how to quell and conquer a dozen common skin conditions, including adult acne, contact dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and athlete’s foot.

You’ll be briefed on breakthrough medications for rosacea and psoriasis, and a surprising and quick remedy for warts.

You’ll keep your skin safe, sound, and looking its best.

Talk about saving your skin! The report spotlights 20 smart steps that will protect your skin from sun damage, winter dryness, environmental irritants, skin cancer, and more.

You’ll learn the worst thing you can do to your skin...how to cut your risk of melanoma in half...and the four musts to look for in any moisturizer. Plus, the report will tell you about the antioxidants that protect against sun damage, and the best soap for sensitive skin.

Get the facts you need for the skin you want. Order your copy of Skin Care and Repair today!

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Are organics worth it?

Organic foods continue to grow in popularity. Organic sales broke through the $50 billion mark in 2018 for the first time, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic foods are clearly healthier for the planet, because they support an agricultural system that avoids synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and promotes a more biodiverse ecosystem, with attention to the health of waterways, soil, air, wildlife, farm workers, and the climate.

However, there isn't clear evidence that organic foods are also healthier for people. An observational study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2018 followed nearly 70,000 French adults and found that those with the highest consumption of organic foods had a 25% reduced risk of cancer over the seven years of the study. But this type of a study doesn't prove cause and effect, and there were some shortcomings inherent in the methodology, so more research is needed.

One drawback for many people is that organic foods come at a higher price. If you're interested in organic production, focus your food dollars where it matters the most—by avoiding the types of fresh produce most likely to retain pesticide residue. The Environmental Working Group publishes a list called the Dirty Dozen that names the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue when grown conventionally:

1. strawberries
2. spinach
3. kale
4. nectarines
5. apples
6. grapes
7. peaches
8. cherries
9. pears
10. tomatoes
11. celery
12. potatoes
13. hot peppers (an extra item in 2019).

The Environmental Working Group also publishes a list called the Clean Fifteen, which names the foods that have the lowest levels of residues and are therefore fine to buy in conventional form:

1. avocados
2. sweet corn
3. pineapples
4. sweet peas, frozen
5. onions
6. papayas
7. eggplants
8. asparagus
9. kiwis
10. cabbages
11. cauliflower
12. cantaloupes
13. broccoli
14. mushrooms
15. honeydew melons.

If you prefer organic and your budget can handle it, that's fine. But the most important step you can take toward a healthier diet is simply eating more fruits and vegetables, whether they're organic or not. The health benefits of eating more produce—even if it is conventionally grown—far outweigh the downsides of higher pesticide residues. And just because snack foods such as chips and cookies have labels that say organic, that does not equal healthy.

For more information about buying and eating organic food, read A Guide to Healthy Eating, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. 

 

 

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Cataract surgery: What to expect before, during and after

Cataract surgery is one of the oldest procedures still being performed today. Ancient Egyptians used a surgical technique known as "couching," in which a sharp needle was used to slide the cloudy lens out of the field of vision and into the vitreous cavity in the back of the eye. Later, the Romans used a method called "needling" to slice up the cataract into pieces small enough to be reabsorbed.

Both procedures improved vision, but they couldn't provide completely clear sight because they didn't replace the lens. That breakthrough didn't come until the 1940s, when English ophthalmologist Harold Ridley invented the intraocular lens.

Unlike the surgeries of antiquity, today's cataract surgery uses small incisions and suction to remove the cloudy lens, and then replaces it with an artificial plastic lens.

Get your copy of Clearing the Fog of Cataracts
 
Clearing the Fog of Cataracts
Clearing the Fog of Cataracts clears away the confusion and misinformation around cataracts. Discover the truth about whether you really need cataract surgery. Plus resources to find the right surgeon and a step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about surgery if you choose to have it. Even better, you’ll find out the secrets to preventing cataracts and maintaining your youthful vision at any age.

Read More

Lens extraction is done using one of two procedures: phacoemulsification or extracapsular surgery. After your cloudy lens is removed, it will be replaced with an implanted clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Your eye doctor will select a lens with appropriate focusing power based on measurements of the eye that were made before surgery, as well as discussion of your lifestyle needs.

Preparing for cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is generally safe, but if you have a condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, your eye doctor might want you to have it under good control before you go ahead with the procedure.

Cataract surgery doesn't generally cause major bleeding, though your ophthalmologist might recommend that you stop taking aspirin or anti-clotting drugs ahead of your procedure as a precaution. But don't stop taking any medications on your own without first checking with the doctor who prescribed them.

Let your eye surgeon know if you take or have ever taken an alpha blocker, such as alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), silodosin (Rapaflo), tamsulosin (Flomax), or terazosin (Hytrin).

Your surgeon may prescribe antibiotic or anti-inflammatory eyedrops for a few days before your procedure to reduce the risk of complications.

What to expect

Cataract surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. You'll most likely spend two to three hours at the surgical facility. The procedure itself usually lasts less than half an hour.

You will be awake, but you may receive a sedative intravenously to relax you. You'll get local anesthesia to prevent block pain. Operating room staff will apply various drops to the eye before and after the surgery, according to the doctor's orders.

Afterward, the surgeon may cover the eye with a bandage or shield, which you can remove later that day or on the following day. You will rest in the recovery area for about 30 minutes, and then will receive instructions on how to care for your eye. Once you're ready to go, someone will need to drive you home.

Recovery at home

You will see your ophthalmologist for several postoperative visits—typically one day, one week, one month, two months, and six months after surgery. At each appointment, the doctor will examine your eye, test your visual acuity, and measure your eye pressure. Within one to three months after surgery, your doctor will determine your eyeglass prescription if recommended for driving or reading.

For a few weeks after your surgery, you will apply prescription antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eyedrops several times a day to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. For about a week after surgery, you'll wear an eye shield to protect your eye while you sleep. Sunglasses to wear outside may be recommended or provided.

You should be able to return to most sedentary activities on the night of your surgery. Driving is typically allowed once your doctor has tested your vision the day after surgery. How long you must wait to exercise depends on the type of surgery you had.

For more tips on preparing for cataract surgery, check out Clearing the Fog of Cataracts, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. 

 

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The ideal stretching routine

Stretching promotes flexibility and helps your joints maintain a healthy range of motion—and in doing so, also lowers the chances of joint and muscle strain.

But how often should you stretch? How long should you hold a stretch? And how many times should you do each stretch?

Get your copy of Stretching: 35 exercises to improve flexibility and reduce pain
 
Stretching: 35 exercises to improve flexibility and reduce pain
Stretching is an excellent thing you can do for your health. These simple, yet effective moves can help you limber up for sports, improve your balance and prevent falls, increase your flexibility, and even help relieve arthritis, back, and knee pain. Whether you're an armchair athlete or a sports enthusiast, this Special Health Report, Stretching: 35 exercises to improve flexibility and reduce pain, from the experts at Harvard Medical School will show you how to create effective stretching routines that meet your needs and ability.

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A panel of experts convened by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reviewed a wide range of studies to help answer these questions. Stretching has been studied much less rigorously than other forms of exercise, so the science is not as strong. But, based on the evidence, the panel agreed that:

  • Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises (stretches, yoga, or tai chi) for all major muscle-tendon groups—neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles—at least two to three times a week.
  • For optimal results, you should spend a total of 60 seconds on each stretching exercise. So, if you can hold a particular stretch for 15 seconds, repeating it three more times would be ideal. If you can hold the stretch for 20 seconds, two more repetitions would do the trick.

To learn more about improving your flexibility, read Stretching, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School

 

 

   

Six tips for safe stretches

 

Virtually every activity you do relies on ease of motion. Stretching can help in numerous ways. It can often relieve back pain, stiff necks, and sore knees when tight muscles are to blame. It can counteract too much sitting whether you're doing it for work or a pleasurable activity. If you're a runner, a tennis player, a golfer, a hiker, or a biker, the right stretching program may set you on a path toward better performance. And as you age, stretching can help keep you active and flexible, making it easier to accomplish innumerable everyday tasks involving walking, climbing stairs, or reaching.

While it's tempting to skip right to the stretches, it's best to think about safety first. These will help you make the best flexibility gains possible, while reducing your risk of injuries.

  1. Warm up first. Much like taffy, muscles stretch more easily when warm. It can be as simple as marching in place with arms swinging for five minutes or dancing to a few songs. Moist heat packs or a warm shower are effective first steps, too.
  2. Feel no pain. Stretch only to the point of mild tension, never to the point of pain. If a stretch hurts, stop immediately! Reset your position carefully, then try again. With time and practice, your flexibility will improve.
  3. Pay attention to posture and good form. Posture counts whether you're sitting, standing, or moving. Good form translates to better gains in flexibility and less likelihood of injury when stretching tight muscles.
  4. Focus on the muscle being stretched. You'll notice that one side of your body often is tighter than the other. Work on balancing this over time.
  5. Breathe. Breathe comfortably while stretching, or use yoga breathing. Whatever you do, don't hold your breath while you are holding a stretch.
  6. Practice often. You'll make the best gains if you stretch frequently—daily, or on as many days of the week as possible. At the very least, aim to do stretches two or three times a week.

To learn more about improving your flexibility, read Stretching, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: Tomwang112/Getty Images

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Stretching: 35 exercises to improve flexibility and reduce pain

Featured content:


• Stretching: The basics • Safety first • Stretching to ease pain • Six questions (and answers) about stretching exercises • SPECIAL SECTION: Warming up for sports with dynamic stretches • Static stretches • Floor stretches

 

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Harvard Health Publications

Don’t let depression rob you of life’s joys.

Discover 12 strategies to break the chains of depression and free yourself to live every day to the fullest!

Understanding Depression

Inside Understanding Depression, you'll discover:

What is depression?
Causes of depression
Diagnosing depression
Seeking treatment
Finding the right medication
Psychotherapy
Brain and nerve stimulation therapies
Read More

Dear Reader,

Depression can sap joy from life. It can leave you out of touch. But, as never before, help — and happiness — are within reach.

A breakthrough report that will make you smile — again.

In this Special Health Report, Harvard doctors share 12 strategies to dispel the symptoms of depression. These are strategies that will rekindle optimism and self-esteem, renew your energy and enthusiasm, and reconnect you with the people and pursuits you love most.

Depression is treatable — and beatable!

As never before, doctors have the tools to address major depression, persistent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. You’ll learn how today’s advances can shatter depression’s grip and help you — or a loved one — regain purpose, happiness and peace-of-mind.

You’ll meet the strategies that can change your way of thinking!

The most effective strategies for depression often combine drugs and therapy. You’ll get clear explanations of the three leading therapies and unbiased evaluations of more than 40 prescription medications.

You’ll be introduced to a behavioral therapy that outperforms many medications. You’ll find how the leading antidepressants compare. You’ll learn which mood stabilizer is most effective for bipolar disorder, and what supportive psychotherapy is best for resolving the grief of a recent loss.

A dozen strategies with one goal.

Edited by Harvard doctors who are practicing physicians, the report will help you work with your own doctor to select the best approach for you. You’ll be able to assess which strategies offer you the most promise, whether to use a single strategy or complementary strategies in tandem.

Not only will you be briefed on drugs and psychotherapy, but you’ll discover an emerging therapy that doesn’t give you time to be depressed, the two best exercises to lift the weight of depression — an often overlooked therapy with a 90% response rate — and even six foods that can improve your mood.

Don’t let depression steal another day. Send for your copy of Understanding Depression now.

 

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4 ways to keep moving with joint pain

moving with joint pain

If you suffer from joint pain, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do, or need to do. But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. For some people, the right exercise routine can even help delay or sidestep surgery.

While exercise is great medicine, it only works if you carve out time to do it regularly. And sometimes the hardest part of a workout is getting started. Here are four ways to help you get your dose of physical activity:

Get your copy of The Joint Pain Relief Workout: Healing exercises for your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles
 
The Joint Pain Relief Workout: Healing exercises for your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles
Is joint pain holding you back? Perhaps an achy ankle or sore knee is making it difficult to enjoy a run through your favorite park or even taking a short walk. Or maybe a throbbing hip or shoulder prevents you from whacking a golf ball or performing simple tasks like carrying a bag of groceries. The exercises in this report, The Joint Pain Relief Workout: Healing exercises for your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, can help relieve ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain, and help you become more active again, which can help you stay independent long into your later years.

Read More
  1. Carve out the time. Skip several half-hour TV shows a week or work out while watching. Get up half an hour earlier each day for a morning workout. If big blocks of time aren't falling into your lap, try 10-minute walks, or half a workout in the morning and half in the evening.
  2. Build activity into your daily routine. Take stairs, not elevators. When commuting, get off the bus or subway a stop or two ahead, or park farther away from your workplace. While on the phone, try a few stretches, pace, or do simple exercises like lunges, squats, and heel raises. Bike or walk to work. When running errands within a reasonable radius, park your car in one spot and walk to different shops. Replace your desk and desk chair with a standing desk. Try substituting a stability ball for your desk chair a few hours a day. Rake leaves and shovel snow instead of using a leaf blower or snow blower.
  3. Find a workout buddy. Workouts with a friend can be more enjoyable, plus you're less likely to cancel on the spur of the moment.
  4. Bugged by bad weather or early darkness? Buy equipment necessary for exercising at home, join a gym, try a class in your community, or walk the mall or an indoor athletic track at a local school.

When motivation flags, remind yourself of your goals, plan small rewards, ask a friend to check up on you, or consider working out with a personal trainer.

For more on developing and mastering joint pain relief workout, read The Joint Pain Relief Workout, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

 

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Harvard Health Publishing

Don’t take chances with your brain health!

Fight cognitive decline with this guide from Harvard Medical School.

Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment

Here’s some of what you’ll discover in your all-in-one MCI resource:

The two types of MCI and which is more common
The “inside story” on how your brain works
How to boost your “cognitive reserve” and defend your brain against memory loss
A fascinating look at the process the brain uses to learn and remember
The #1 risk factor for MCI, 
A comprehensive review of the ways doctors diagnose MCI
7 "reversible" causes of MCI
8 ways you can prevent or slow down MCI
 
Read More

Dear Reader,

Do you sometimes have trouble remembering the name of your favorite movie? Or dinner plans with your spouse? Are you noticing that you’re having more difficulty finding your words? If so, it could be the result of normal aging — or it could be a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). You owe it to yourself and your family to get the facts about MCI and learn what you can do to keep your brain healthy.

Fortunately, learning about MCI is now a lot easier thanks to Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment, a guide from the experts at Harvard Medical School. This information-packed resource tells you everything you need to know about MCI, including:

How you can reverse MCI. A diagnosis of MCI doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck with it. As you’ll discover in the guide, MCI is, in some cases, reversible. For example, certain types of medications can cause memory problems. Your doctor may be able to offer you a different drug therapy that won’t affect your memory. Depression is also linked to MCI. It may be possible to alleviate symptoms of MCI by treating the depression.

Steps you can take to protect yourself from MCI. Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment offers simple tips to protect your brain health. Getting better sleep, lowering your stress levels, and adopting a Mediterranean-style diet have all been shown to help. As the guide explains, it’s also beneficial to keep learning new things and challenge your brain with activities like puzzles, playing a musical instrument, and learning a new language.

How MCI is treated. One approach to treating MCI is cognitive training. Offered in group or individual settings, or even via computer, cognitive training can help individuals make the most of their remaining cognitive skills. The guide also gives you strategies for improving your cardiovascular health. Achieving cardiovascular fitness is important because blockages in your blood flow can cause brain damage and speed up cognitive decline.

Everything you need to know about MCI. Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment, is a handy reference that gives you all the facts about MCI. You get a complete overview of the different parts of the brain, so you understand how each area supports cognition. You’ll learn how MCI is a form of cognitive decline that falls in a gray area between normal aging and dementia. And you’ll read about the different kinds of MCI, the risk factors for MCI, and how MCI is diagnosed. 

If you or a loved one are facing MCI — or worried you might someday — it’s essential that you get informed. Order Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment now and discover how you can help safeguard your brain health for years to come.

 

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Harvard Health Publishing

 

Harvard Health Publishing

A troubleshooting guide to neck pain

Discover the breakthrough steps that can “pain-proof” your neck and give you fast relief from the agony and anxiety of neck pain.

Neck Pain

Inside Neck Pain, you'll discover:

Where bone, muscle, and nerve converge
Evaluating neck pain
Common causes of neck pain
Managing your pain
SPECIAL SECTION: Preventing further neck pain
Pain medication
Complementary and alternative treatments
Read More

Dear Reader,

Does your neck feel stiff in the morning? Do your neck muscles sometimes seize painfully without warning? Maybe a dull ache and tightness in your neck is a constant companion?

Whatever form neck pain takes, when it strikes you want relief... you want to restore full motion quickly, and you don’t want pain to return. This Special Health Report will show you how to get what you want — effectively and successfully.

Send neck pain packing — with a one-way ticket!

Neck Pain will show you how to quell and conquer your neck pain...identify its causes...accelerate recovery...and protect against recurrence.

The report will prepare you to address pain symptoms caused by strain, by age-related ailments, or by injury. You will learn how to work with your doctor for a clear diagnosis. And you’ll be briefed on the latest advances in medications, surgery, as well as complementary and alternative medicine.

You’ll never take neck pain lying down again!

You may already know that doctors now discourage bed rest and immobility for neck pain. This Special Health Report explains why and will introduce you to a remarkable self-help program that’s changing thinking, changing lives, and proving to be the single best way to speed recovery.

You’ll discover which pain-relieving medicines are the safest and swiftest. You’ll be alerted to one medication anyone over 65 should avoid...you’ll read why women are more prone to neck pain... the danger of “too much care” for whiplash...plus six symptoms that signal a medical emergency.

Enjoy a future free and secure from the fear of neck pain!

And a bonus section delivers ten simple steps that can stop pain from ever getting started. This valuable “here’s how” chapter illustrates and demonstrates how to lessen the stress and strain on your neck at home and on the road...at work and even while playing your favorite sport.

You don’t have to put up with neck pain! Banish it! Send for your copy of this new Special Health Report today!

 

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Beat and defeat the aches and anxiety of leg pain!

Harvard Medical School doctors share the keys to accurately diagnosing, effectively treating, and successfully preventing 28 painful leg problems.

Healing Leg Pain

The Healing Leg Pain Special Health Report includes:

Why your legs hurt
Hip pain
Upper leg pain
Knee pain
Lower leg pain
And more from the experts at Harvard Medical School, America’s #1 medical school for research as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
Read More

Dear Reader,

Has leg pain ever kept you off your feet? If so, you know the frustration — and the worry.

When you can’t walk without pain, it can become difficult to work, play sports, exercise, or even climb a single set of stairs. If the damage is significant enough, it can lead to permanent disability.

You can have legs that are pain-and-problem-free!

The conditions that contribute to leg pain can range from fractures, muscle tears, and sprains, to long-term problems caused by osteoarthritis, peripheral neuropathy, and vascular disease.

This Special Health Report is designed to help you resolve both the pain and the problem. Healing Leg Pain will take you from symptoms to source to solution. You’ll find how to accelerate treatment, avoid recurrence, and assure renewed leg strength and wellness.

You can get a ‘leg up’ on leg pain!

More than any part of your body, your legs respond to care that is active and proactive. You’ll learn to work with your physician to pinpoint the cause of your condition and initiate effective treatment.

You’ll find take-charge ways to prevent PAD. You’ll learn an easy at-home therapy to ease Achilles tendinitis. You’ll read about a hands-on test to diagnose a meniscal tear...3 ways to decrease your risk for peripheral edema...and techniques to quickly assess and address dangerous deep vein thrombosis.

You’ll discover the advances that can put leg pain behind you!

Healing Leg Pain will tell you about emerging treatments and state-of-the-art procedures that can bring lasting pain relief, assure confident mobility, and keep your legs looking and feeling their best.

You’ll learn about a strategy to fully relieve IT band syndrome within six weeks. You’ll find two non-surgical approaches to treat ACL injuries. You’ll be briefed on a breakthrough that speeds healing from a hamstring tear...a newly-approved device to quiet RLS...and effective medications for knee bursitis.

You’ll get guidance you can depend on for legs you can rely on!

This report comes to you from Harvard Medical School. It is information you can trust — and use. From the first page, you’ll find clear and instructive guidance that will help you understand the treatment options and preventive measures that best suit your condition and your concerns.

From coping with muscle cramps and shin splints...to quelling the pain of sciatica and tendinitis...to preventing the disabling consequences of edema or osteoarthritis, Healing Leg Pain offers help, hope, and direction.

Send for your copy of Healing Leg Pain now. Don’t wait. It’s the right step to take!

 
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Harvard Health Publishing

Stop living with the dangers of chronic inflammation!

Discover how you can boost resistance to inflammatory diseases and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s!

Understanding Inflammation

Understanding Inflammation is packed with helpful information such as:

The five signs of inflammation (and an easy way to remember them)
An overview of the immune system, with a clear illustration of the immune system in action
12 disease-fighting cells — the body’s “key players” — that attack bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens
Five of the most common causes of inflammation
The fascinating link between gum disease, inflammation, and heart disease
10 “influencers” that help reduce the risk of inflammation
Anti-inflammation diet and lifestyle changes you can try right away
 
Read More

Dear Reader,

If you’ve ever cut your finger or been stung by an insect, you’ve experienced inflammation. This acute inflammation is triggering a response within your body to halt and heal the injury. But there’s another form of inflammation that doesn’t halt and heal...it is inflammation that can hurt and harm.

What do today’s most challenging diseases have in common?

Chronic inflammation. Scientists now know that chronic inflammation plays a central and inciting role in heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and more.

This is the inflammation you cannot see. Inflammation that doesn’t heal. Inflammation that’s not only chronic in nature, but costly in its consequences.

You can control and conquer chronic inflammation!

From chronic joint ailments to Crohn’s disease...from diabetes to dementia...from asthma to atherosclerosis, chronic inflammation can initiate and accelerate illnesses that are often totally avoidable.

With this new downloadable report, you’ll understand how, unchecked, chronic inflammation precipitates damage. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to detect chronic inflammation...how to deflect its effects...and defeat its causes.

Practical guidance you need for the protection you want — and deserve!

You’ll read about the factors that contribute to chronic inflammation...the role of genetics and the environment...the foods that stimulate inflammation...and the one regular check-up that can forestall inflammation near your heart.

You’ll be introduced to a new test that reflects the levels of chronic inflammation in your body...a new drug that targets cardiovascular inflammation...and an affordable daily supplement with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Plus 24 more strategies that will “fire-proof” you from chronic inflammation.

Understanding Inflammation will brief you on the most effective medications to dampen the body’s inflammatory response. You’ll discover a host of health habits to defend against inflammation including the top foods to reduce the risk of chronic disease...the most effective exercises...and a surprisingly easy step that can quell inflammation and lift your spirits.

You can protect yourself from chronic inflammation. You can do it effectively. You can do it successfully. Don’t wait. Send for you copy of this informative and empowering report today!

 

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Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Health Publishing

Harvard Medical School experts reveal:

Ways to keep your mobility and independence as you age

Mobility and Independence

Inside Mobility and Independence, you’ll discover:

Food that helps fight frailty
3 supplements you may need as you age
The easiest way to eat for better health — forget the food pyramid
An important vitamin that’s hard to get from food
How what you eat affects the way you move
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

A scary thing about getting older is the thought of losing your independence. The statistics are frightening: 25% of your muscle mass is gone by age 70 — a major reason people lose their independence — and the majority of people who break a hip never fully regain their independence.

But there’s no reason to give up or give in to the symptoms of aging. There is so much you can do to improve your chances of staying active and living independently in your own home for your whole life.

That’s why Harvard Medical School experts have created Mobility and Independence. This Special Health Report is filled with proven strategies to help you ease pain, build bone and muscle, and boost your balance so you can live on your own and stay in your own home.

Click here now to learn about:

  • 6 easy exercises that let you stay active without causing joint pain

  • The vitamin that may make you less likely to break a hip

  • Relief for 8 common causes of foot pain — including bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis

  • Exercises that help keep you from twisting your ankle

  • The device that could keep you from breaking bones and losing your independence

  • How to increase muscle power to boost your balance and lower your risk of falling

  • Where to put lights, grab bars, and more so you can stay in your own home

Plus, you’ll get a special bonus section that reveals how what you eat affects how you move! Did you know that a diet low in fruits and vegetables is linked to higher rates of frailty as you age? Or that as you age, your need for calories declines, but your need for nutrients increases? In this special section, you’ll see how to make every meal count for better health, mobility, and independence.

Harvard Medical School’s Mobility and Independence is a must-read for anyone who wants to help ensure they can live an active, independent life.

 

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Tips to measure your blood pressure correctly

To determine whether you have hypertension, a medical professional will take a blood pressure reading. How you prepare for the test, the position of your arm, and other factors can change a blood pressure reading by 10% or more. That could be enough to hide high blood pressure, start you on a drug you don't really need, or lead your doctor to incorrectly adjust your medications.

National and international guidelines offer specific instructions for measuring blood pressure. If a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant isn't doing it right, don't hesitate to ask him or her to get with the guidelines.

Get your copy of Controlling Your Blood Pressure
 
Controlling Your Blood Pressure
An alarming one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Known medically as hypertension, many people don't even know they have it, because high blood pressure has no symptoms or warning signs. But when elevated blood pressure is accompanied by abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to your arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat. In the Special Health Report, Controlling Your Blood Pressure, find out how to keep blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and eating more healthfully.

Read More

Here's what you can do to ensure a correct reading:

  • Don't drink a caffeinated beverage or smoke during the 30 minutes before the test.
  • Sit quietly for five minutes before the test begins.
  • During the measurement, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and your arm supported so your elbow is at about heart level.
  • The inflatable part of the cuff should completely cover at least 80% of your upper arm, and the cuff should be placed on bare skin, not over a shirt.
  • Don't talk during the measurement.
  • Have your blood pressure measured twice, with a brief break in between. If the readings are different by 5 points or more, have it done a third time.

There are times to break these rules. If you sometimes feel lightheaded when getting out of bed in the morning or when you stand after sitting, you should have your blood pressure checked while seated and then while standing to see if it falls from one position to the next.

Because blood pressure varies throughout the day, your doctor will rarely diagnose hypertension on the basis of a single reading. Instead, he or she will want to confirm the measurements on at least two occasions, usually within a few weeks of one another. The exception to this rule is if you have a blood pressure reading of 180/110 mm Hg or higher. A result this high usually calls for prompt treatment.

It's also a good idea to have your blood pressure measured in both arms at least once, since the reading in one arm (usually the right) may be higher than that in the left. A 2014 study in The American Journal of Medicine of nearly 3,400 people found average arm- to-arm differences in systolic blood pressure of about 5 points. The higher number should be used to make treatment decisions.

In general, blood pressures between 160/100 mm Hg and 179/109 mm Hg should be rechecked within two weeks, while measurements between 140/90 and 159/99 should be repeated within four weeks. People in the prehypertension category (between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg) should be rechecked within four to six months, and those with a normal reading (less than 120/80 mm Hg) should be rechecked annually. However, your doctor may schedule a follow-up visit sooner if your previous blood pressure measurements were considerably lower; if signs of damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes are present; or if you have other cardiovascular risk factors. Also, most doctors routinely check your blood pressure whenever you go in for an office visit.

For more on getting your blood pressure under control, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: cheyennezj/Getty Images

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Controlling Your Blood Pressure

Featured content:

 
Blood pressure basics
Types of high blood pressure
What puts you at risk for high blood pressure?
How high blood pressure harms your health
Diagnosing high blood pressure
Lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure
SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Conquering your salt habit


Click here to read more »

 

 

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Harvard Health Publishing

What’s the one prescription that can lower your risk for 5 major diseases — with NO side effects?

Starting to Exercise

Discover how to:

Prevent or lower high blood pressure
Increase flexibility in many joints by strengthening muscles
Lower your chance of developing diabetes by nearly 60%
Fight the decline in immune function that happens with age
Prevent the formation of clots in the bloodstream that can lead to heart attack or stroke
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

If you guessed exercise, you’re absolutely right!

Exercise has the power to keep you from developing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer. In fact, exercise can lower your risk of heart disease as effectively as medications!

It can also help ease arthritis pain, sharpen your memory, trim your waistline, and preserve your independence.

So why isn’t everyone exercising?

One of the biggest reasons is not knowing where to start, or finding a program that’s easy to stick with. That’s why Harvard Medical School experts created Starting to Exercise. This guide helps you choose the best, safest workout for you; shows you exactly how to do each move; and even helps you fit the routines into your busy schedule.

You’ll get 11 great workouts, including:

  • A cardio routine you can do in your own living room in just a few minutes

  • Strength training moves that target upper body, lower body, and total body

  • A balance workout that can reduce your risk for falls

  • Stretching routines — complete with yoga moves

  • Walking workouts with 3 different levels of difficulty

  • Post-workout stretches that improve your flexibility

Read More

You’ll also get photos and tips that explain how to do each move correctly, as well as ways to customize a move for your fitness level.

Plus, you’ll get a SPECIAL BONUS SECTION, "Keys to staying motivated," that will help you stick with whatever workout you choose. You’ll find out why clipping on a pedometer or using a step counter on your smartphone can increase your activity level by more than 25%, as well as how to keep your workout fresh and exciting. This section also gives you a quick guide to the best fitness apps.

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Harvard Health Publications Harvard Health Publications

Don’t let joint pain keep you from enjoying life

Joint Pain Relief Workout
Read More

Discover little-known facts, such as:

The two muscles linked to lower back pain and knee stiffness
The moves that can help restore range of motion
The tight muscle that can set you up for a fall
The key to preventing and relieving shoulder problems
The nine types of exercises to try if it hurts to walk
The best ways to prevent injuries while exercising
An important stretching tip for anyone with arthritis

Dear Reader,

Sore, throbbing joints can make life difficult. About all you can think of doing is heading for the couch and sitting there till the pain goes away.

But sitting can actually make joint pain worse!

Hours of sitting tighten hip flexor and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints. Tight hip flexors and hamstrings can affect gait and balance, making it harder to walk — or even making you more likely to fall.

That’s why experts at Harvard Medical School created The Joint Pain Relief Workout. This remarkable book brings you 47 targeted joint exercises for shoulders, hips, ankles, and knees that help reduce pain and stiffness and improve flexibility.

You’ll get photos of each exercise, along with lists of tips and techniques, the number of repetitions you should do, and even ideas for making the moves easier or harder depending on your fitness level.

Plus, included in your Joint Pain Relief Workout are 2 special extras:

#1: Walking plan and program: If joint pain is making you more sedentary, try the special walking plan on page 10 of The Joint Pain Relief Workout. You’ll see how to safely increase your physical activity — why it’s minutes, not miles, that matter most — plus get 10 ways to up your motivation to move more.

#2: Wrist & elbow mini-workout: Don’t let tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow or your 9-to-5 office routine sideline you. On page 43, you’ll find four exercises for keeping wrists and elbows moving freely — and you’ll even get an easy exercise to strengthen your hand.

Read More

Don’t miss this special report. Get your copy of The Joint Pain Relief Workout today and SAVE 30% off the $29 cover price. There’s no risk. Order now!

Sincerely,

Howard E. LeWine, M.D.
Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

P.S. Click here to see the joint you should strengthen to help improve your balance.

 

 

 

 

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Harvard Health Publications Harvard Health Publishing

 

Finally! The truth about cataracts and cataract surgery.

Harvard doctors reveals the startling facts about cataracts... what to do if you get diagnosed... surgery options... plus how to enjoy crystal-clear eyesight at any age.

Clearing the Fog of Cataracts

The Harvard Medical School’s Guide: Clearing the Fog of Cataracts includes:

How balancing your blood sugar keeps your vision razor-sharp
1 surprising early warning sign of cataracts
2 easy steps you can take every day to protect your peepers
The #1 cure for cataracts
5 simple no-surgery ways to stay active and independent with early cataracts
And so much more!
Read More

Dear Reader,

Are there times you notice your vision is blurry... and you worry it could be cataracts?

Vision loss is a scary thing. It can mean more accidents, having trouble with everyday tasks, and even the loss of your precious independence.

And, yes, cataract surgery is an option. It’s got a great success rate and few complications. But who really wants to go under the knife? Especially when it comes to your delicate eyes?

Well, here’s great news. Even if you develop cataracts, there are simple steps you can take to continue to live an independent and active life without surgery. And, better yet, proven ways to never develop cataracts in the first place... and hold on to your sharp vision at any age. Now Harvard doctors reveal all the startling facts about cataracts in the new guide Clearing the Fog of Cataracts.

Cataract surgery can restore your crystal clear eyesight. But is it right for you?

Believe it or not, even if you’re diagnosed with cataracts, you may never need surgery. Now you can discover how to delay or even “skip” surgery with simple at-home solutions.

You’ll also find out everything you need to know if you decide surgery is necessary, including how to find the right surgeon, how to prepare for surgery, and how to speed up your recovery and get back to your life faster. Best of all, you’ll discover how to prevent cataracts and make sure your eyes stay clear, sharp, and healthy... even if you live to 120!

In this special guide, you’ll find out the latest, proven solutions including:

  • The 5-step solution to catching cataracts early, before they damage your vision

  • Why quitting this bad habit has the little-known bonus benefit of lifelong razor-sharp eyesight

  • The 1 artificial lens you want to avoid at all costs if you want to drive at night

  • The “eagle eyes diet” that will keep you cataract-free

  • 5 questions to ask your surgeon to get the best results

  • When you should only have surgery on one eye, and how to avoid it for the other eye completely

  • And much more!

Clearing the Fog of Cataracts clears away the confusion and misinformation around cataracts. Discover the truth about whether you really need cataract surgery. Plus resources to find the right surgeon and a step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about surgery if you choose to have it. Even better, you’ll find out the secrets to preventing cataracts and maintaining your youthful crystal-clear vision at any age.

If you’re concerned about developing cataracts or you’ve already been diagnosed, be sure to order Clearing the Fog of Cataracts today!

Read More

 

 

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Treating Upper Back Pain

 

Upper back pain can be caused by stiffness in the neck, weakness in shoulder blades & poor posture. 

Understanding the cause of your upper back pain can help you figure out the best treatment option.
 

Take a look at our guide to learn how you can easily relieve & prevent upper back pain at home.

 

 

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Harvard Health Publications Harvard Health Publications

Don’t let joint pain keep you from enjoying life

Joint Pain Relief Workout
 

Dear Reader,

Sore, throbbing joints can make life difficult. About all you can think of doing is heading for the couch and sitting there till the pain goes away.

But sitting can actually make joint pain worse!

Hours of sitting tighten hip flexor and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints. Tight hip flexors and hamstrings can affect gait and balance, making it harder to walk — or even making you more likely to fall.

That’s why experts at Harvard Medical School created The Joint Pain Relief Workout. This remarkable book brings you 47 targeted joint exercises for shoulders, hips, ankles, and knees that help reduce pain and stiffness and improve flexibility.

You’ll get photos of each exercise, along with lists of tips and techniques, the number of repetitions you should do, and even ideas for making the moves easier or harder depending on your fitness level.

Plus, included in your Joint Pain Relief Workout are 2 special extras:

#1: Walking plan and program: If joint pain is making you more sedentary, try the special walking plan on page 10 of The Joint Pain Relief Workout. You’ll see how to safely increase your physical activity — why it’s minutes, not miles, that matter most — plus get 10 ways to up your motivation to move more.

#2: Wrist & elbow mini-workout: Don’t let tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow or your 9-to-5 office routine sideline you. On page 43, you’ll find four exercises for keeping wrists and elbows moving freely — and you’ll even get an easy exercise to strengthen your hand.

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Addiction

 

 

Many people consider addiction to be a problem of personal weakness, initiated for self-gratification and continued because of an unwillingness or lack of sufficient willpower to stop. However, within the medical and scientific communities, the notion that pleasure-seeking exclusively drives addiction has fallen by the wayside. Clinicians and scientists alike now think that many people engage in potentially addictive activities to escape discomfort — both physical and emotional. People typically engage in psychoactive experiences to feel good and to feel better. The roots of addiction reside in activities associated with sensation seeking and self-medication.

 

People allude to addiction in everyday conversation, casually referring to themselves as “chocolate addicts” or “workaholics.” However, addiction is not a term clinicians take lightly. You might be surprised to learn that until the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), the term addiction did not appear in any version of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, the reference book that physicians and psychotherapists use to identify and classify mental health disorders. In this most recent edition, addiction is included as a category and contains both substance use disorders and non-substance use disorders, such as alcohol use disorder and gambling disorder, respectively.

 

Read more/Learn more....

 

 

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Enjoy restful sleep once again!

Harvard doctors share top strategies to defeat insomnia, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and 11 other common sleep disturbances!

Learn anytime, anywhere!
You can access your Improving Your Sleep course whenever it’s convenient for you from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Easy login and simple-to-navigate screens make this online course perfect for adults of all ages.

Click Here to Learn More

Although our sleep patterns change over time, our need for sleep doesn’t. A good night’s sleep is essential for your good health, for keeping you alert and energetic, and for building your body’s defenses against infection, chronic illness, and even heart disease.

Improving Your Sleep, the newest interactive course from Harvard Health Publishing, will show you how to overcome the obstacles interfering with the good night’s rest you want and your body needs.

You’ll find why sleep often eludes us as adults. You’ll explore habits and conditions that can rob you of peaceful slumber. And most important, you’ll learn the changes you can make and steps you can take to restore consistently restful and restorative sleep.

Is snoring causing strife? Could sleep apnea be threatening a loved one’s life — or yours? The course provides instructive guidance to address these sleep breathing disorders as well as other common sleep disturbances including Restless Leg Syndrome, sleep/wake cycle disorders, narcolepsy, jet lag, and even sleepwalking.

You don’t have to dream of a good night’s sleep. This new course will make it a reality!

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Find the weight-loss plan that works for you

You’ve tried different diets — and have even been exercising regularly — but those extra pounds won’t budge. Don’t give up. It may be that you haven’t yet found the weight-loss strategies that work for you.

“Everything works for some people, but no treatment is equally effective for everyone,” says Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. “No method is fundamentally better than any other. The key is finding out which therapy is best for you, and that takes trial and error.”

Get your copy of Lose Weight and Keep it Off
 
Lose Weight and Keep it Off
Successful weight loss depends largely on becoming more aware of your behaviors and starting to change them. Instead of relying on willpower, this process demands skill power. This report offers a range of solutions that have worked for many people and can be tailored to your needs.

Read More

There are many ways to approach weight loss. Of course, diet and exercise should be first. There is no shortage of diets to try: low-calorie, low-carb, fill-up-first-with-bulky-foods, and weight-loss plans with prepackaged foods.

Beyond diet, exercise helps burn calories. Getting more sleep and lowering your stress level with biofeedback or meditation may be helpful. If you are easily discouraged, studies suggest that a support program may increase your chance of success. Options include phone, Internet, or group support, and in-person coaching. For some people, hunger-suppressing medications or weight-loss surgery can help them lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off.

Even if you don’t reach your ideal weight-loss goal, you want to succeed in living a heart-healthy lifestyle. And that means being physically active, even if you don’t shed a pound or lose an inch.

“Everyone should exercise regularly, not necessarily to lose weight, but because it’s good for the heart, regardless of your weight,” says Dr. Kaplan. “A diet low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids and with limited salt intake can substantially reduce cardiovascular risk. However, no single facet of this diet will reliably cause weight loss,” he adds.

When you are trying to lose weight, Dr. Kaplan advises you to take it one step at a time.

“Try what feels good, don’t despair, and don’t give up. Until we get better at understanding who has what kind of obesity, it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you,” he says.

To learn more about weight loss, buy Lose Weight and Keep it Off, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Lose Weight and Keep it Off

Featured content:

 
Overweight and obesity: What's behind the growing trend?
How excess weight affects your health
When to seek professional help
Weight-loss basics
... and more!

In this course, you’ll discover...

  • the advanced PAP machine bringing sleep apnea sufferers greater relief

  • an effective topical alternative to daily pills for restless leg syndrome

  • the easy lifestyle change that can restore more REM sleep

  • a 30-minute outpatient procedure to silence snoring

  • the one insomnia-beating therapy that offers the greatest long-term success

  • a smart and simple pre-flight trick to defeat jet lag

  • an unbiased guide to 32 prescription and OTC sleep medications

  • And more!

A course you may want to take in your PJs! Improving Your Sleep will smooth and speed your way to a great night’s sleep!

Click Here to Learn More

This course is packed with tips, techniques and advances that will make your sleep more restful and rewarding.

  • 6 self-help strategies that can reduce — or eliminate — episodes of sleep apnea

  • the one (and only) proven way for healthy adults to boost the deep sleep they get

  • how to use the “early-to-bed-early to rise” syndrome to your advantage

  • the best time of day for your scheduled nap — and just how long that nap should be

  • the #1 symptom of narcolepsy — and today’s two first-line treatments

  • 3 tips for preventing “Sunday night insomnia”

You can have your nights back. You can end tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling. You can fall asleep more easily, sleep more soundly, and wake more refreshed. And you can do it starting now!

Enjoy the bliss and benefits of a sound night’s sleep once again! Let this course from Harvard Health Publishing be your guide!

Look. Listen. AND LEARN!

Improving Your Sleep is a dynamic, interactive, audio-visual course packed with content and designed for convenience. You choose the time and you set the pace. The course lets you:

 

  • Get information you can use from a source you can trust

  • Enjoy guidance from America’s top sleep experts when and where it’s most convenient for you

  • Watch, pause, and watch again as often as you want

  • Share the learning experience with your spouse and loved ones

  • Includes downloadable charts, quizzes, video presentations, a resource library, bonus coverage, and more!

 

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The active ingredients of tai chi

eight active ingredients of tai chi

When Peter Wayne, medical editor of Introduction to Tai Chi from Harvard Medical School, began conducting scientific studies on the health benefits of tai chi, he began noticing that tai chi works in a variety of ways, not just one. Whereas most drugs have a single active ingredient, he observed that tai chi was more like a multidrug combination that uses different components to produce a variety of effects. 

Wayne formulated the idea of the "eight active ingredients" of tai chi, which he and his colleagues now use as a conceptual framework to help evaluate the clinical benefits of tai chi, explore the underlying mechanisms that produce these effects, and shape the way tai chi is taught to participants in clinical trials (and to teachers). While different styles of tai chi emphasize different ingredients, these therapeutic factors are interwoven and synergistic. Here's a summary of one of the active ingredients of tai chi.

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An Introduction to Tai Chi
Mind-body exercises, such as tai chi and yoga, have been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is not surprising, given the increasing number of studies on the positive effects of these gentler forms of exercise—everything from lowering blood pressure and managing depression to building strength and improving balance. There is even evidence that tai chi may help you live a longer, more vital life.

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Structural integration. Tai chi looks at the body as an interconnected system, not as a collection of individual parts. As a result, when practicing tai chi, you won't do one exercise for your biceps and another for your glutes. Instead, tai chi integrates the upper body with the lower body, the right side with the left side, and the extremities with the core. 

Alignment and posture are part of this structural integration, and tai chi trains you to find alignments that are safe and unstrained, allowing you to perform graceful movements. You move more efficiently—not just during your tai chi practice, but throughout your day. The result is less stress and load on your joints and better balance. 

Improved posture provides tai chi benefits that extend well beyond your class. When you walk or sit with your shoulders rounded and your torso hunched over, it is hard to take deep breaths. But when you straighten your back, roll your shoulders back and down, and open your chest, you breathe more deeply and efficiently. 

Not only does this integration improve your ability to move without pain, but it also affects your mental health. In two different studies, people who sat or walked more upright during the experiments had a more positive outlook afterward than those who slouched while sitting or walking.

To learn more about tai chi, its health benefits, and how to learn its movements, check out Introduction to Tai Chi from Harvard Medical School.

Image: vgajic/Getty Images

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A sharper mind: tai chi can improve cognitive function

tai chi

There are lots of jokes about forgetting where you put your keys, but as you get older, changes in your mental function are no laughing matter. Changes in your brain that start around age 50 can affect your memory, as well as other cognitive functions such as your ability to juggle multiple tasks, process information rapidly, and focus on details. By age 70, one in six people has mild cognitive impairment (which can progress to Alzheimer's disease).

Up until about two decades ago, it was believed that your brain only produced new cells early in life. But research has shown that the brain has the ability to change throughout your entire life span, growing new cells, making new connections, and even increasing in size. These changes can improve cognitive function—and various forms of exercise, including tai chi, can help.

In a meta-analysis of 20 studies on tai chi and cognition, tai chi appears to improve executive function—the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions—in people without any cognitive decline. In those with mild cognitive impairment, tai chi slowed the progression to dementia more than other types of exercise and improved their cognitive function in a comparable fashion to other types of exercise or cognitive training.

In one study, researchers had nearly 400 Chinese men and women with some cognitive impairment perform either tai chi or a stretching and toning program three times a week. After a year, the tai chi group showed greater improvements, and only 2% of that group progressed to dementia, while 11% from the traditional exercise group did.

In another study, tai chi outperformed walking. Following 40 weeks of either tai chi, walking, social interaction, or no intervention, researchers compared MRI images and discovered that brain volume increased the most in the tai chi group. In addition, that group also performed better on cognitive tests.

To learn more about tai chi, its health benefits, and how to learn its movements, check out Introduction to Tai Chi from Harvard Medical School.

Image: © kali9 | Gettyimages

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An Introduction to Tai Chi

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What is tai chi?
The health benefits of tai chi
Before you start: Safety first
Creating your tai chi practice
Standing Tai Chi Calisthenics
Seated Tai Chi Calisthenics
Traditional Tai Chi Elements

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Fusing good taste and good nutrition


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Every spring, Harvard Medical School's Department of Continuing Education, The Osher Institute at Harvard Medical School, and The Culinary Institute of America present a special event called "Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives."

This four-day conference brings together doctors, dietitians, and health care professionals for an experience that combines the latest nutrition research with healthy cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops.

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Successful weight loss depends largely on becoming more aware of your behaviors and starting to change them. Instead of relying on willpower, this process demands skill power. This Special Health Report, Lose Weight and Keep It Off, offers a range of solutions that have worked for many people and can be tailored to your needs.

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Here are some practical tips for nutritious and delicious home-cooking from a recent Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives.

Make plants the main attraction

A substantial amount of research shows that people who eat a plant-based diet — mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — live longer and enjoy better health than people whose diets consist mainly of animal-based foods like meat.

Many cultures developed their cuisines around plant foods out of necessity. Traditionally, animal protein was expensive, so limited quantities were available. Mediterranean, Latin American, and Asian cultures are known for pairing healthy plant foods with lean protein (fish, chicken) and monounsaturated fat (olive oils, nuts).

These diets can have substantial health benefits. For example, a Mediterranean-style diet has been found responsible for:

  • longer life expectancy

  • reduced heart disease

  • relief from rheumatoid arthritis

  • lower rates of Parkinson's disease

  • lower rates of Alzheimer's disease

Here are three tips to get creative with your plant-based meals:

  1. Follow the motto "If it grows together, it goes together." For example, try the Spanish sauce called romesco over grilled vegetables. It's made from roasted red peppers, olive oil, and nuts.

  2. Make olive oil really shine by matching a bold olive oil, such as a Tuscan varietal, with other bold flavors, such as rosemary and pine nuts.

  3. Complement a milder olive oil, such as a French varietal, with subtly flavored foods.

Eat locally

Locally grown foods may be fresher and have higher nutrient content. Since they spend less time being shipped and handled, they may look and taste better.

Spice it up

Despite the lack of research on their health benefits, spices, herbs, and aromatics (any plant, herb, or spice that adds lively scent to a beverage or food) make other plant foods mouth-watering treats. And they are definitely a healthier option than piling on the salt. Unlike salt, spices have not been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.

Here are four ways to ensure the quality and flavor of your spices:

  1. Buy them in small quantities and in their whole form to ensure freshness.

  2. Store them in a cool, dry space.

  3. Grind them right before use.

  4. Toast them dry in a hot skillet or stir-fry them in oil over medium-high heat (both for just 10-20 seconds).

Get excited about whole grains

Rich in fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, whole grains (such as whole-wheat bread or pasta, or brown rice) are far better nutritionally than refined grains (such as white bread or white rice). And they make you feel fuller longer. Because the starch inside of them is absorbed more slowly, they're less likely than refined grains to quickly be stored as fat. Regular consumption of whole grains also reduces the risk of:

  • diabetes

  • cancer

  • heart disease

  • stroke

  • diet-related depression (usually associated with very low-carbohydrate diets)

Here are five ways to incorporate different types of whole grains into your diet:

  1. Use whole-grain bread, pasta, and brown or wild rice.

  2. Try grains from around the world such as teff, spelt, farro, kamut, and amaranth.

  3. Blend whole grains with colorful vegetables, spices, and olive oil.

  4. Eat whole-grain cold or hot cereals, adding fruit, low-fat milk, or nuts.

  5. Season whole grains with sweet spices like nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and masala spic

Go a little nuts

In a large trial of men and women, eating nuts five times a week or more lowered diabetes risk by 27%. In another large study, women who ate nuts just about every day lowered their risk of heart disease by 32%.

However, since a one-ounce portion of nuts can pack 160 calories or more, eat them in moderation to help prevent weight gain. Two tasty suggestions: toasted pine nuts sprinkled over whole-grain pasta, or almonds on cereal.

Following the above advice will not only make your meals nutritious, but will also allow you to enjoy some of the most delicious food you've ever eaten.

For 39 delicious heart-healthy recipes, buy Lose Weight and Keep It Off from Harvard Medical School.

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Dealing with diabetic emergencies


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With proper care, most people with diabetes can achieve and maintain blood glucose levels as close to normal as safely possible. But people with the disease need to be wary of the severe problems that can occur on both ends of the spectrum. Hypoglycemia, or too-low blood sugar, is a side effect of some glucose-lowering medications. In rare situations, blood sugar can also escalate to a dangerously high level, causing problems such as ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar coma.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a potential problem for anyone who takes insulin or several other glucose-lowering medications, including sulfonylureas or glinides, either alone or in combination with other antidiabetic drugs. Hypoglycemia is far less common among people with type 2 diabetes than among those with type 1, but it can be serious when it occurs. Blood sugar may become abnormally low in people who take too high of a dose of medication in the setting of exercise, too little food or carbohydrates, a missed or delayed meal, or a combination of these factors. As you pursue near normal blood sugar control more aggressively, your risk for hypoglycemia increases.

Get your copy of Diabetes
 
Diabetes
This Special Health Report will help you better understand and manage your diabetes. It includes detailed, updated information about medications and alternative treatments for diabetes, and a special section on weight-loss strategies. You’ll also learn the basics of how your body metabolizes sugar, how and when to monitor your blood sugar, and how to cope with both short- and long-term complications of the disease. Most importantly, you’ll see that it’s not just possible to live with diabetes — it’s possible to live well.

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It’s important that people with diabetes, and those who live and work with them, learn to recognize and understand hypoglycemia so it can be prevented and treated before it becomes a life-threatening crisis.

Spotting the signs of hypoglycemia

Many experts associate hypoglycemic reactions with blood sugar levels below 60 mg/dL, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the level at which hypoglycemia symptoms will affect an individual because each person responds differently. For instance, your blood sugar might fall below 40 mg/dL without causing any symptoms, while someone else might feel symptoms coming on when his or her blood glucose falls below 70 mg/dL.

Over time, the symptoms may become subtler. You may or may not experience

  • palpitations

  • sweating

  • anxiety

  • fuzzy thinking

  • hypoglycemia unawareness, in which a person experiences no warning symptoms even when their blood sugar levels are very low.

Low blood sugar usually sets off alarms in many organ systems. The brain, which relies on glucose to function, is especially sensitive to sugar deprivation. The first signs of hypoglycemia resemble those of an anxiety attack because a decline in blood sugar stimulates the autonomic nervous system. Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is secreted, causing sweating, nervousness, trembling, palpitations, a fast heart rate, lightheadedness, and often hunger. The release of epinephrine is a corrective response to hypoglycemia not only because it signals you to eat, but also because it prompts your liver to make more sugar.

If hypoglycemia is not treated rapidly, it may get worse and affect brain function, leading to

  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • confusion
  • other behavior that resembles drunkenness, such as belligerence or silliness.

A further drop in blood sugar levels or failure to treat the condition promptly may result in loss of consciousness, seizures, and even death. An episode of hypoglycemia while driving can cause a serious car accident, especially if you postpone treating yourself, thinking you can make it to your destination. Don’t risk it: stop and get something sweet right away if you don’t have anything handy in your car.

Not everyone experiences all these symptoms, and it can be hard to tell the difference between hypoglycemia and anxiety over a problem at work or an argument with your spouse. In addition, beta blockers (used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease) can mask the early symptoms and result in more severe hypoglycemia. That’s why doctors often look for alternatives to beta blockers in people with diabetes. Alcohol can also mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia, which is one reason it must be used cautiously. If hypoglycemia occurs during sleep, the only clues may be damp pajamas (from sweating), vivid nightmares, or a nagging headache on awakening. It’s important to be attuned to these early signs and to know what blood sugar levels set off hypoglycemia.

Preventing hypoglycemia is preferable to treating it. If you’re taking insulin, you may experience hypoglycemia at some time, most likely because of a change in eating patterns, such as missing a meal. But if you engage in binge drinking of alcohol, have irregular eating patterns, or have liver or kidney disease, you are at particular risk.

Treating low blood sugar

While it’s a good idea to test your blood glucose level if you suspect you’re having a hypoglycemic reaction, often there just isn’t time. Once you start to feel strange, don’t put off treatment. Follow the 15/15 rule, as explained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

Eat 15 grams of carbohydrate and wait 15 minutes. The following foods will provide about 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 3 glucose tablets

  • Half cup (4 ounces) of fruit juice or regular soda

  • A glass of milk

  • 6 or 7 hard candies

  • 2 tablespoons of raisins

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

After the carbohydrate is eaten, wait about 15 minutes for the sugar to get into your blood. If you do not feel better within 15 minutes, more carbohydrate can be consumed. Your blood sugar should be checked to make sure it has come within a safe range.

Diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) — in which blood sugar levels soar very high — is far more common among people with type 1 diabetes than those with type 2. It develops when insulin falls to a critically low level, often when you miss insulin injections or use too little insulin during a period of illness or unusual stress. Illness and stress increase your vulnerability because the hormones released in these situations oppose the action of insulin. Unless insulin doses are maintained or increased, insulin insufficiency develops.

When your insulin levels are very low, cells can’t absorb glucose from the bloodstream to make energy. Instead, they begin to break down stored fat. A natural byproduct of this fat breakdown are acids called ketones. When they reach high levels, the body can’t metabolize them fast enough. As a result, the ketones accumulate in your bloodstream, making your blood acidic. At the same time, your kidneys excrete large amounts of glucose-rich urine, causing dehydration.

Symptoms of DKA include

  • increased thirst

  • frequent urination

  • rapid breathing

  • nausea, vomiting

  • fatigue

  • abdominal pain

  • “fruity” breath.

As the condition progresses, blood pressure falls because of dehydration. Confusion and even coma can develop if blood sugar levels become extremely high. Because the warning signs often develop over several days, regular blood glucose tests can alert you when levels are becoming high enough to increase the risk for DKA. You can also detect the development of DKA by monitoring ketones in your urine. This test is easily performed at home using a urine dipstick for ketones. Urine ketones should be checked whenever your blood sugar levels become unusually high or when you’ve developed a new illness, especially one with gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting. Call your doctor immediately if your urine test shows more than a moderate level of ketones (30 to 40 mg/dL). Treatment involves insulin, fluids, and electrolytes (minerals such as sodium, potassium, and chloride) given through a vein. Untreated, DKA can be fatal.

Hyperosmolar coma

In rare cases, blood glucose levels may rise to extremely high levels (over 800 mg/dL), leading to severe dehydration and confusion or coma. This most commonly occurs in elderly people when blood sugar increases because of an impaired ability to recognize thirst, illness, or stress. If the person affected can’t respond by drinking more liquids — either because he or she doesn’t feel thirsty (not uncommon in the elderly) or because neurological damage (for example, after a stroke) makes drinking fluids difficult — blood sugar levels can skyrocket.

As the problem worsens, confusion, sleepiness, and seizures follow dehydration, resulting in a condition called hyperosmolar coma. This rare condition, which occurs most often in elderly people with type 2 diabetes, can be fatal and requires hospitalization, often in an intensive care unit. Again, careful glucose monitoring and strict adherence to your treatment program can help you prevent hyperosmolar coma.

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HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL EXPERTS REVEAL

Top ways to find freedom and relief from shoulder pain

Shoulder Pain

Heal and end 15 common shoulder problems including rotator cuff injuries, bursitis, tendinitis, shoulder separation, impingement, frozen shoulder, and more.

Healing Shoulder Pain

The Healing Shoulder Pain Special Health Report includes:

Why do we get shoulder pain?
The anatomy of the shoulder
Common shoulder problems
Poor posture and shoulder pain: What’s the connection?
Diagnosing shoulder pain
Conservative (nonsurgical) treatments
And so much more!
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Dear Reader,

Raise your hand if you’ve never had shoulder pain. Indeed, shoulder pain can make even that simple act agonizing.

Shoulder problems not only keep you from doing the things you enjoy but make even routine daily activities daunting and difficult.

You can find freedom and relief from shoulder pain!

The fact is, more than 70% of people will suffer the effects of shoulder pain. You don’t have to be one of them!

In this report you’ll find how you can reduce and relieve shoulder pain...the best techniques to reverse and repair damage...and tips to strengthen and protect your shoulder’s mobility and durability.

You can’t just shrug off shoulder pain.

Shoulder problems rarely go away on their own. Healing Shoulder Pain will show you how to speed their departure with targeted diagnoses and tailored treatments.

You’ll discover how to accurately pinpoint the condition triggering your pain and how to effectively and safely achieve lasting pain relief and maintain flexibility and renewed range-of-motion.

You don’t have to wince — or wonder.

From the doctors of Harvard Medical School, the Report will take you from symptoms to source to solution. You’ll learn the telltale symptoms that distinguish tendinitis from bursitis...what condition a “Popeye muscle” bulge may signal...and the sometimes unrecognized signs of a rotation cuff tear.

You’ll find the ideal imaging test to diagnose shoulder problems...why you may be increasingly vulnerable to shoulder impingement...and a condition whose symptoms women especially need to watch for.

The bottom line on the best first line treatments!

Healing Shoulder Pain will show you how to initiate pain relief and improve mobility with the least invasive procedures. You’ll discover a proven approach to end the pain of a separated shoulder...a gentle technique to thaw a frozen shoulder...the most effective OTC medications for shoulder arthritis...a complete shoulder workout to strengthen shoulder muscles...and much more.

You’ll be in the forefront of today’s advances in shoulder surgery.

You’ll learn the important considerations when choosing a surgical procedure...what to expect before, during, and after surgery...and the breakthroughs that are lessening pain and speeding recovery.

You’ll be briefed on an outpatient procedure to relieve chronic arthritis pain...the one gold standard surgery for long-term pain relief...an arthroscopic technique to stabilize a joint after repeated dislocations and two new technologies that are making shoulder surgery easier and safer than ever.

Wave goodbye to shoulder pain! Don’t wait! Send for your copy of Healing Shoulder Pain today.

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Is something in your diet causing diarrhea?

As we age, our digestive systems can become more sensitive to certain types of foods and methods of food preparation. While you once may have handled the spiciest of foods without breaking a sweat, now that super-hot chicken curry gives you the digestive drama known as diarrhea — uncomfortable, unformed, watery stool. Sometimes diarrhea occurs because of an underlying condition, or as a side effect of a medication. However, diet is often the cause. The following can cause loose stools or make them worse.

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The Sensitive Gut

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The Sensitive Gut

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Inside the gut
Special section: The Stress Connection
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Antireflux drug therapy
Functional dyspepsia
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The sweet danger of sugar

Sugar has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health. Consuming whole foods that contain natural sugar is okay. Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells. However, problems occur when you consume too much added sugar — that is, sugar that food manufacturers add to products to increase flavor or extend shelf life.

Get your copy of Reducing Sugar in Your Diet
 
Reducing Sugar in Your Diet
Reducing consumption of added sugar is a good place to start in improving the overall nutritional punch of your diet. This Harvard Medical School Guide will help you gain a deeper understanding of the different formsof sugar, what foods contain significant amounts of added sugar, how sugaris metabolized by the body, and the health risks it poses when consumed to excess. We also offer practical suggestions from Harvard experts on how to reduce your intake.

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Additional News from Harvard Health Publishing

Fitness trend: Nordic walking

How many caffeine servings trigger migraine headaches?

Pain relievers: A cause of higher heart risk among people with arthritis?

Reducing Sugar in Your Diet

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Reducing Sugar in Your Diet

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Sugar and your health
What is sugar?
Added sugar: Where and how much?
What happens to sugar in the body
Sugar and chronic disease risk
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Stay on top of heart failure symptoms

Heart failure — this dire-sounding term often brings to mind a heart that has beat its last. Not so. Heart failure means that the heart isn't able to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Common effects of heart failure include fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in the legs.

Many people are surprised to learn that heart failure is often a manageable condition. Taking medications, balancing exercise and rest, following a low-sodium diet, and being careful about fluid intake can help keep it in check. But heart failure can be unpredictable. After a long stretch of being under control, it can flare up, and even require a hospital stay.

Get your copy of Heart Failure: Understanding the condition and optimizing treatment
 
Heart Failure: Understanding the condition and optimizing treatment
In Heart Failure: Understanding the condition and optimizing treatment, you’ll learn the mechanics of the heart, the symptoms and warning signs of heart failure, and the keys to an effective treatment plan. This report will help you understand and invest in the steps you need to take to keep heart failure in check. You’ll get guidance for monitoring symptoms, for sticking to your doctor's strategy, and for making heart-smart lifestyle changes.

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Sometimes these flare-ups come from out of the blue, caused by an infection or a medication. Most of the time, though, they creep up, announcing themselves with subtle changes like being more tired than usual or quickly gaining several pounds.

Warning signs of worsening heart failure

If you have heart failure, call your doctor if you notice any of these signs:

  • Sudden weight gain (2–3 pounds in one day or 5 or more pounds in one week)
  • Extra swelling in the feet or ankles
  • Swelling or pain in the abdomen
  • Shortness of breath not related to exercise
  • Discomfort or trouble breathing when lying flat
  • Waking up feeling short of breath
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Increased fatigue
  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of appetite

Keeping track

To effectively monitor your symptoms, you need to know the signs of trouble. This can be tricky because symptoms may seem to come and go and it can be hard to tell the difference between the side effects of medications and the symptoms of heart failure itself, especially if they're mild.

Even small shifts can be significant. By writing down any new symptoms or changes in existing ones, you can track changes over time. At the end of each day, fill in your symptoms and note their severity on a scale of one to five.

As you look at your records, ask yourself:

  • Are there any patterns in my symptoms?
  • Do my symptoms seem to be getting better or worse?
  • Am I having any new symptoms?
  • Is there anything I haven't written down?

Most important, stay in close communication with your doctor and healthcare team. Together you can catch changes in your condition early and help avoid complications.

For more on diagnosing and managing heart failure, read Heart Failure: Understanding the condition and optimizing treatment, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: patrickheagney/Getty Images

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Diagnosing heart failure
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SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Devices for the heart
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Appendix: Heart failure medication guide


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Treating pain after opioid addiction: A personal story


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As a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), I am profoundly grateful for my 10 years in recovery from opiate addiction. As detailed in my memoir Free Refills, I fell into an all-too-common trap for physicians, succumbing to stress and ready access to medications, and became utterly and completely addicted to the painkillers Percocet and Vicodin. After an unspeakably stressful visit in my office by the State Police and the DEA, three felony charges, being fingerprinted, two years of probation, 90 days in rehab, and losing my medical license for three years, I finally clawed my way back into the land of the living. I was also able to return, humbled, to a life of caring for patients.

There is one question that I invariably get asked, by my doctors, colleagues, friends, family members, and at lectures and book talks: now that you are in recovery from opiates, what are you going to do when you are in a situation such as an accident or surgery, when you might need to take opiates again? I have blithely answered this question with platitudes about how strong my recovery is these days, and how I will thoughtfully cross that bridge when I come to it. In other words, I punted consideration of this difficult issue into some unknown future time.

Unfortunately, that future is now, and that bridge is awaiting my passage.

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2 ways to protect your heart: Improve sleep and manage stress

If you have heart disease, you’re probably all too familiar with tenets of a heart-healthy lifestyle; eat wisely, get regular physical activity, keep weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar on target; and if you smoke, quit. What you might not know is that sufficient, good-quality sleep and stress control also offer genuine benefits to your heart.

Get your copy of Improving Sleep
 
Improving Sleep
When you wake up in the morning, are you refreshed and ready to go, or groggy and grumpy? For many people, the second scenario is all too common. This report describes the latest in sleep research, including information about the numerous health conditions and medications that can interfere with normal sleep, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat sleep disorders. Most importantly, you’ll learn what you can do to get the sleep you need for optimal health, safety, and well-being.

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Sleep

Two sleep-related problems that plague many people — sleep deprivation and sleep apnea — have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

  • Sleep deprivation. Over time, inadequate or poor quality sleep can increase the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease. Studies have linked short-term sleep deprivation with several well-known contributors to heart disease, including high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.

  • Sleep apnea. This common cause of loud, disruptive snoring makes people temporarily stop breathing many times during the night. Up to 83% of people with heart disease also have sleep apnea, according to some estimates.

    In the most common form, obstructive sleep apnea, soft tissue in the upper part of the mouth or back of the throat completely blocks the airway. Oxygen levels dip and the brain sends an urgent “Breathe now!” signal. That signal briefly wakes the sleeper and makes him or her gasp for air. That signal also jolts the same stress hormone and nerve pathways that are stimulated when you are angry or frightened. As a result, the heart beats faster and blood pressure rises—along with other things that can threaten heart health such as inflammation and an increase in blood clotting ability.

If you snore often and loudly — especially if you find yourself tired during the day — talk with your doctor about an evaluation for sleep apnea.

Check your stress (and negative thoughts) at the door

A growing body of evidence suggests that psychological factors are — literally — heartfelt, and can contribute to cardiac risk. Stress from all sorts of challenging situations and events plays a significant role in cardiovascular symptoms and outcome, particularly heart attack risk. The same is true for depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, and social isolation. Acting alone, each of these factors heightens your chances of developing heart problems. But these issues often occur together, for example, psychological stress often leads to anxiety, depression can lead to social isolation, and so on.

Does reducing stress, or changing how you respond to it, actually reduce your chances of developing heart disease or having a heart attack? The answer isn’t entirely clear, but many studies suggest the answer is “yes.” There is much to learn about exactly how. Research indicates that constant stress contributes biologically to heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and the formation of artery-clogging deposits. Other research finds that chronic stress may make it harder to sleep, eat well, quit smoking, and exercise.

Fortunately, you can learn healthier ways to respond to stress that may help your heart and improve your quality of life. These include relaxation exercises (deep breathing, guided imagery), physical activity (walking, yoga), and staying connected with friends, co-workers, family members.

For sleep research, including information about the numerous health conditions and medications that can interfere with normal sleep, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat sleep disorder, buy Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night's rest, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

 

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Improving Sleep

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Why alcohol won’t help you sleep better (it’s actually linked to chronic insomnia)
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An online program that’s helping insomniacs get much-needed sleep
•  ... and more!


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