Google Health Officially Launches
Google Health—which offers the ability to manage and store medical records and health information online— launched publicly yesterday, according to the official Google blog. The goal is to allow users to take their medical records with them, whether they're traveling or simply switching doctors or pharmacies. Google's site partners include Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics, and other health-related companies.
Google provided a first look at its new health site in February. U.S. News looked at a study that showed most people are interested in electronic health records, and considered potential privacy concerns about Google Health.
Erectile Dysfunction Often a Sign of Heart Disease
Two new studies published yesterday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggest that men with both diabetes and erectile dysfunction face a greater cardiovascular risk than men with erectile dysfunction alone, Adam Voiland reports in his On Men blog. More than half of American men age 40 to 70 suffer from erectile dysfunction, so that's a lot of men who may be at risk of vascular disease—and may not realize it. "Symptoms of erectile dysfunction seem to occur three to four years before symptoms of coronary artery disease," says Robert Kloner, a cardiologist at Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, Calif. Researchers first started tracking a link between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular problems in the mid-'90s, and in the last few years they have recognized that erectile dysfunction precedes and is therefore predictive of future cardiovascular problems.
Voiland explains why getting to the doctor is important if you have erectile dysfunction. A class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors—which includes Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis—can help men achieve erections by increasing blood flow to the penis. And statins, if used appropriately, can lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Students Drink Heavily on 21st Birthdays
Many 21-year-olds proudly down 21 drinks in honor of their birthdays, Nancy Shute reports. Thirty-four percent of college men and 24 percent of women say they drank 21 drinks or more to celebrate their birthdays, according to a new study. In this survey of 2,518 University of Missouri students, 35 percent of the women and almost half of the men reported drinking enough to have had a blood-alcohol level of 0.26 or more. That's perilously close to 0.30, at which point the brain stops telling the body to breathe.
U.S. News recently listed six questions teens have about alcohol. Also, learn why teen drinking can lead to health problems, and discover the types of messages about drugs and alcohol that may be in the music your teen listens to.
Family History of Shingles May Increase Risk of Getting Sick
Having a family history of shingles —a potentially debilitating illness that involves tingling, itching, burning, or shooting pain—may increase your risk of coming down with the illness, according to a new study, published yesterday in Archives of Dermatology. And the more relatives you know who have had shingles, the higher your risk of getting sick. Researchers looked at 1,027 people between 1992 and 2005 and found that of the more than 500 patients with shingles, 39 percent said that they knew of a blood relative who fell ill to the disease in the past. But just 11 percent of patients who had never had shingles knew of blood relatives who once had the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week made official a recommendation it originally issued 19 months ago: that adults ages 60 and older get vaccinated against shingles. U.S. News answers common questions about the shingles vaccine.
—January W. Payne