Research Finds Public Smoking Bans Reduce Heart Attacks
New research suggests that cities that enact smoking bans in restaurants, bars, and other public places curb heart attack rates as a result, HealthDay reports. Two studies published in separate journals incorporated data from 24 smoking ban studies in cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Combining the studies showed that heart attacks dropped by at least 17 percent one year after the bans took effect. University of Kansas Prof. David Meyers told HealthDay: "The risk reduction got bigger the longer the ban was in effect." Meyers's study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that after one year, heart attack risk declined an average 25 percent. One Montana city that banned smoking saw heart attacks decline by 45 percent, Meyers said. But after the ban was lifted, heart attack rates rose to their previous level, he said. The other study appears in the journal Circulation.
See 6 reasons why most Americans are at risk for heart disease (smoking is No. 1). And for the latest news on heart health, see U.S. News's Heart Center.
Alzheimer's Disease Is Rising Sharply, but You Can Lower Your Odds
The world's population is graying, and as a result, nations around the globe are confronting a rising tide of people who will grapple with the ravages of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. According to a new report from Alzheimer's Disease International, some 35.6 million people worldwide will have a form of dementia in 2010. That number is expected to nearly double every 20 years, reaching an estimated 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050, U.S. News's Sarah Baldauf reports.
While genes influence your risk of developing Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, they "are not even the dominant factor" for the vast majority of people, says Paul Thompson, professor of neurology at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine. Previous studies tell us that certain behaviors and lifestyle choices play an important role in influencing the trajectory of dementia. Plus, there are all kinds of health benefits to be gained in adopting early on the behaviors of people who have aged healthfully and with mental function intact, Baldauf writes. Read more.
Seasonal Cold or Swine Flu? Moms Face Tough Calls
How do you know if your child's stuffy nose and cough are symptoms of garden-variety cold and not swine flu? U.S. News's Deborah Kotz asks Richard Wenzel, a swine flu expert and former president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "You really have no way of knowing if it's the flu or just a cold," Wenzel says. What's more, lacking fever is not a definitive sign of cold either. "At the beginning of the [swine flu] outbreak in Mexico, only 30 percent of patients hospitalized with the infection had fever initially," he says, "and 15 percent of patients never developed a fever at all."
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of flu includes fever, Wenzel says. The agency recommends that those with flulike illness stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. That implies that hacking coughs and runny noses shouldn't keep us away from others, Kotz writes. Read more.
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