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High blood pressure at mid age may raise risk for heart attacks and stroke

A hike in your blood pressure during middle age significantly raises the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke during your lifetime, according to new Northwestern Medicine research. The study offers a new understanding on the importance of maintaining low blood pressure early in middle age to prevent heart disease later in life.

Men and women who developed high blood pressure in middle age or who started out with high blood pressure had an estimated 30 percent increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who kept their blood pressure low.

Bisphosphonate use may increase risk of esophageal cancer

The esophageal cancer risk with bisphosphonate bone drugs may be a bigger problem than thought, particularly with use of alendronate (Fosamax), an adverse event surveillance study suggested.  Overall, 128 cases of bisphosphonate-associated esophageal cancer were reported to the FDA’s adverse event reporting system (AERS) from 1995 through 2010, Beatrice J. Edwards, MD, of Northwestern University and colleagues found.

Playing helps kids grow

My daughter teaches dance to preschool children and recently I went to observe one of her classes.   I was really surprised to see that some of the children could not follow a simple dance movement pattern and could not jump on one foot.   Their inability to concentrate and follow directions was also concerning though I certainly am not a child development expert.  On the other hand, preschoolers can work complicated electronic equipment and iphones.   I found this article that further explores and addresses my concerns and ask for comments from our readers on their observations.

Therapy by smart phone?

Brooding in your apartment on Saturday afternoon? A new smart phone intuits when you’re depressed and will nudge you to call or go out with friends.

It’s the future of therapy at a new Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine center where scientists are inventing web-based, mobile and virtual technologies to treat depression and other mood disorders. The phone and similar projects bypass traditional weekly therapy sessions for novel approaches that provide immediate support and access to a much larger population.

Less couch time means fewer cookies

Simply ejecting your rear from the couch means your hand will spend less time digging into a bag of chocolate chip cookies.

That is the simple but profound finding of a new Northwestern Medicine study, which reports simply changing one bad habit has a domino effect on others. Knock down your sedentary leisure time and you’ll reduce junk food and saturated fats because you’re no longer glued to the TV and noshing. It’s a two-for-one benefit because the behaviors are closely related.

Women’s reaction to reproductive health debate

With women’s reproductive health reemerging as a heated issue this year in policy debates and news reports, this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll assesses women’s perceptions and reactions to that attention and its potential impact on the upcoming presidential election.

Fear of Spiders? Try tarantula therapy.

People with spider phobia handle tarantulas and have lasting changes in fear response!   A single brief therapy session for adults with a lifelong debilitating spider phobia resulted in lasting changes to the brain’s response to fear.  The therapy was so successful the adults were able to touch or hold a tarantula in their bare hands six months after the treatment, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

It’s Don’t Fry Day! Protect your skin!

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day.”  This year it is May 25.   The goal?  To make sure people stay safe in the sun and protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors—on “Don’t Fry Day” and every day.

Here’s why. Skin cancer is on the rise in the United States; the American Cancer Society estimates that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. In 2012 alone, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 76,250 new cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.