Health Buzz: Flu Shot Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk

Give your kitchen a restaurant-style makeover; body sculpting without surgery.

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Flu Vaccine Could Reduce Heart Attack Risk, Study Says

A flu shot could do more than protect you from being bedridden for a week with body aches, coughing and chills: The vaccine might lower your risk of a heart attack, new research suggests. Adults 40 and older who get flu shots appear to be less likely to have a heart attack the following year, according to a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers compared the medical records of more than 16,000 first-time heart attack patients to those of 63,000 people with no heart attack history. After accounting for risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes, people who got a flu shot were 19 percent less likely to suffer a first-time heart attack over the next year, compared to those who skipped the shot, Reuters reports. People vaccinated early in the season—between September and mid-November—benefitted the most, with a 21 percent reduction in first-time heart attack risk. While the flu shot itself may not prevent heart attacks, the findings add weight to the theory that some flu infections trigger heart problems, the study authors say.

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  • Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Inspection?

    If a restaurant inspector barged into your kitchen tomorrow, would it pass the test—or would he threaten to shut you down? Clipboard in hand, he'd check the temperature inside the refrigerator. Warmer than 40 degrees? Violation. Raw meat stored above ready-to-eat food? More points off. Same goes for dirty, cracked eggs, and swollen, leaking, or rusted cans of food. And don't even think about smoking while you're cooking, U.S. News reports.

    At least one in seven home kitchens would flunk a restaurant-type health inspection, a recent study by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suggests, and only three out of five would earn an A or B. Since food consumed at home is the source of roughly half of the nation's annual 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses, that's worrisome. "Sometimes we get a little sloppy in our own kitchens," says Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietitian and nutrition professor at Boston University. "Whether you're bringing raw food into your home to prepare or leftovers from a restaurant, you have to do your part to help reduce the risk of coming down with a food-borne illness."

    To protect those who dine out, restaurant inspectors scrutinize every square inch of a commercial kitchen—from floor to ceiling and all surfaces in between. Among other things, they look for workers who are sick or don't wash their hands, perishables that sit out, dirty equipment, and not cooking, storing, or reheating food at the proper temperature. [Read more: Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Inspection?]

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    • CoolSculpting and Zerona: Body Sculpting Without Surgery

      Two new body-contouring options, that don't involve incisions, got approved by the Food and Drug Administration last week. The first, called CoolSculpting, freezes away fat cells, and the second, called Zerona, uses a laser to zap fat; both work above the skin, writes U.S. News's Deborah Kotz.

      "The best candidates are those who aren't significantly overweight but have some localized areas of fat that they'd like to get rid of on the abdomen, hips, or thighs," says Boston dermatologist Jeffrey Dover, chair of the scientific advisory board of Zeltiq, the company that makes CoolSculpting. He adds that some of his best results are in women who eat nutritiously and exercise but have a stubborn bulge of fat left over from previous pregnancies. The procedure involves sitting in a chair (no anesthesia necessary) while a technician applies a cooling suction device to the target area of fat; the cold temperature—above freezing—destroys fat cells while causing a numbing sensation. Results take two to four months to appear, and some people experience redness, mild pain, and bruising for a few days afterward. Each $700 treatment round takes about an hour, and most areas require two treatments to get a 20 percent reduction in fat, Dover says. So a belly pouch would set someone back $1,400, while love handles or thigh reduction, which both require a separate treatment for each side, would cost $2,800. [Read more: CoolSculpting and Zerona: Body Sculpting Without Surgery.]