Saturday, August 11, 2012

Numerous Health Articles, 08-11-12

Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep
5 changes to try for better sleep if you have RLS.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) steals sleep. It's usually worst in the evening and overnight, which can mean little rest and fatigue the next day.

"Most people with RLS have fragmented sleep, with difficulty falling asleep and repetitive jerking motions that can wake them up," says neurologist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorders Center.

The good news, she says, is that many people with RLS respond to simple treatments -- and that can mean better sleep.

Here are five simple changes to try: [...]
Read on and count the ways.

Exercise May Fight Depression in Heart Failure
Regular Aerobic Activity Improves Mood About as Well as Antidepressants, Talk Therapy
July 31, 2012 -- Exercise helps people with heart failure feel a bit better, physically and emotionally, a new study shows. It may also lower a person's risk of dying or winding up in the hospital.

Up to 40% of people with heart failure grapple with depression. The combination often leads to poor health outcomes. One study found seriously depressed people with heart failure were more than twice as likely to die or be hospitalized over the course of a year compared to other people with heart failure who weren't depressed.

"Whenever patients are more depressed, their motivation goes down. Their ability to keep up with their doctors' recommendations goes down. Their ability to get out and do basic physical activities like walking goes down," as does their health, says David A. Friedman, MD, chief of Heart Failure Services at North Shore-LIJ Plainview Hospital in New York. "It's a vicious cycle."

"This [study] ... shows a non-drug way to try to improve patients' mood and motivation. That's the best thing you can do," says Friedman, who was not involved in the research. [...]
Read the rest for details of the study.

Fewer Lies, Better Health?
People Who Lied Less Reported Better Relationships, Improved Mental, Physical Health: Study

Ecstasy Pills Cause Memory Problems
Taking 10 or More Pills a Year Linked to Immediate and Short-Term Memory Problems
July 27, 2012 -- People who use the club drug ecstasy (MDMA) can develop memory problems, a new study shows.

In the study, new ecstasy users who took 10 or more ecstasy pills during their first year showed problems with their immediate and short-term memory.

The researchers say the memory problems may not be immediately apparent. Ecstasy users may not notice the problems until permanent damage has been done. The memory issues are associated with damage of an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory.

The study compared 23 new users of the drug to 43 people who didn't use any illicit drugs besides cannabis. On average, study participants who used ecstasy took 33 pills over the course of one year.

"Given the specific memory impairments, our findings may raise concerns in regard to MDMA use, even in recreational amounts over a relatively short time period," says study researcher Daniel Wagner, in an email. He is a psychologist at the Klinik fur Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie in Cologne, Germany.

The study is published in the journal Addiction. [...]

It's also highly addictive, has other risks and "may even have a greater effect on all cognitive function". That's ALL cognitive function.

I found it interesting, because I've often thought of people who take Ecstasy as being... not too bright? A sandwich short of a picnic? Or just plain shallow and stupid. This study kinda backs that impression up with some science.

Drug May Slow Memory Loss in Early Alzheimer's
Medication Approved to Treat Patients With HIV May Do Double Duty for Dementia

Walking for Exercise: Americans Making Strides
Still, Less Than Half of Adults Meet Federal Exercise Guidelines
Aug. 7, 2012 -- No exercise is more popular than walking, and more people walk these days than they did five years ago, according to a new CDC report.

Nonetheless, the majority of adults still need to increase the amount of exercise they get each week in order to meet federal health guidelines. Nearly a third of American adults still get no exercise at all.

"Fifteen million more American adults were walking in 2010, and that's a great first step," CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, told reporters during a news briefing. "It's a great way to get started meeting the 2 1/2 hours per week of physical activity."

And, Frieden says, people who walk are more likely to meet that goal; 60% of walkers get the recommended amount of exercise each week, about twice as many as those who don't walk.

"That's much higher than those who don't get that 10-minute walk," he says, adding that for people who follow the guidelines, "physical activity really is a wonder drug that makes you healthier and happier... even if you don't lose weight, physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases."

The CDC estimates that more than 145 million American adults -- 62% of the population -- took at least one 10-minute or longer walk per week in 2010. That's a 6% increase since 2005. And increases occurred across all populations.

"Because walking or moving with assistance is possible for most persons, does not require special skills or facilities, and can serve multiple purposes, it represents a way many U.S. residents can achieve a more physically active lifestyle, regardless of sex, race/ethnicity, age, or education level," the report's researchers write.

About two-thirds of adults in the West get out and walk, the highest rate in the country. But the South showed the greatest increase of any region, up about 8% in five years. That's good news for a region that, Frieden points out, consistently shows higher rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other chronic health problems.

"This is significant progress we are reporting," he says.

The ideal walk, says Frieden, is a brisk one. "You should get a little winded," he says.

And the ideal exercise is one that you like doing. "The key concept is to do something you enjoy, to build it into your routine, and to keep doing it throughout your life." {...}

I've read in other places too, that walking, as much as you can, when you can, just during your everyday activities, can help you lose weight and keep it off. And that people who live in cities, where driving a car can be inconvenient, walk more and also tend to have less weight problems. I know that when I lived in a city, I often walked to many places, and I also weighed less.

Pets for Depression and Health
Can your depression problems improve when you interact with your pet?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the answer isn't always "yes".

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